Merrill Lynch, one of the world’s leading financial services firms, with offices in more than 35 countries, just got bigger. Earlier this year, the company’s investment management business signed a merger deal with money management firm BlackRock, creating a company with $1 trillion in assets.

It plunges huge sums into technology every year, including a $1 billion, three-year project to create a new suite of applications for wealth management. But the company also has a heavy investment in legacy systems – it’s one of the largest IBM mainframe installations in the world – which it doesn’t want to waste.

Service oriented architecture (SOA) underpins its IT strategy, providing a consistent platform across the business for delivering client-focused solutions. Since 2001, the company has internally generated more than 420 web services, saving it millions in application development costs. It has also enabled the company to keep and make use of its existing mainframe and legacy investments without having to invest in new hardware or rewrite software.

"Our investment in BPM and SOA software will enable us to streamline our operations"

Rahul Merchant, senior vice president, Merrill Lynch GBT

Last year, it set up its ‘On Demand Risk’ SOA to provide a company-wide portal for traders to access market data and perform risk calculations. This followed in November with a partnership with SOA Software for its Service Manager product and IBM Global Services, which is helping the company deploy the architecture. Service Manager is designed to provide the company with security, monitoring, management and governance of its web services. The company has also invested in Tibco business process management (BPM) and SOA software to improve its backoffice efficiency and its service to clients.

“Our clients are demanding new service models with more transparency into trading operation and better service level agreements,” says Rahul Merchant, senior vice president, Merrill Lynch Global Business Technology. “Our investment in BPM and SOA software will enable us to both streamline our operations and provide superior client service.”

Using this software, Merrill Lynch will be able to streamline and automate its backoffice processes. It will also enable the company to get rid of redundancy in reporting and analysis and encourage the reuse of global services.