Global Investments Systems of Hackensack, N.J. got into the Polish market through what may seem like an unlikely door: Ireland.
The company, which sells accounting software in the U.S. and abroad, has seen a dramatic increase in its international scope since it opened an office in Dublin, Ireland in 1997.
Just as Poland has started to privatize its pension funds, GIS has licensed its MFACT mutual fund accounting software to over a dozen companies vying for that pension business.
Poland mandated the creation of retirement plans for its workers at the end of 1998, and those plans have been started this year.
GIS has signed up a total of 17 clients in Poland, including Polish trust and pension companies, which account for about 70 percent of the companies now competing for pension business in Poland, company officials said. Its clients in Poland include Alliance Capital and Citibank of New York and The Pioneer Group of Boston.
"We were in the right place at the right time," said Barry McConville, managing director, GIS Ireland.
GIS's success lends credence to the notion that not only investment managers can make money in the privatization that is sweeping Europe.
"There will be a market (for pension fund companies), but also for the companies that provide the servicing for those funds," said Nigel Wilson, managing director at GIS.
GIS's success in the Polish market has helped boost its business abroad just as it has tried to raise its international profile. In June, the company started an international branding and advertising campaign that emphasized the fact that it now has over 50 clients outside the U.S. The company has long been associated with its MFACT software, but now it wants to brand each of its three products under the GIS name. The company also sells a shareholder accounting software program called MSHARE and portfolio accounting software, IMPACT.
The company started out as more of a product than an organization. GIS was formed in 1992 when Wilson left Price Waterhouse Investment Co. Wilson bought the rights to IMPACT and MFACT, products he had developed at Price Waterhouse and previously with another company, and they became the flagship products of GIS. MSHARE was first released in 1998. However, the products have always overshadowed GIS's brand, Wilson said.
In order to accomplish the re-branding, the company has hired a new advertising agency, designed a new logo and has redesigned its web site. It has also just released an upgraded version of its fund accounting system, MFACT 5.0.
"It's enabling us to be on a very solid foundation in the next millennium," said Wilson.
But without an office in Dublin or a presence in Europe, McConville said that the company's success in Poland would not be possible.