Taking Financial Reports To The Next Level

Organization Name: Financeware, Inc. d/b/a Wealthcare Capital Management

Contact: Jerry Welsh, Lead Web Developer

Industry: Financial Services

Country: U.S.A.

How Financeware met higher standards of professionalism and quality in financial report generation.

Founded in 1999, Richmond, Virginia based Financeware is powering the future of financial advice through a unique suite of advising services and tools, including asset management (the firm is an SEC registered investment advisor and offers a turnkey life relative asset management program through its Wealthcare Capital Management brand). The privately held service bureau delivers advice creation and monitoring services for financial advisors and various technology tools through licensing that enable the delivery of Wealthcare Services. The goal-based advising approach called Wealthcare allows advisors to give their clients confidence in meeting their goals, without unnecessary sacrifices in their lifestyles, while avoiding undue investment risk.

“Our website is one of a suite of tools we provide to financial advisors to help them manage the financial strategies of their clients and to implement the Wealthcare process,” says Jerry Welsh, Lead Web Developer. “There are a number of reports that we generate as PDF documents for those persons who use our products. These reports are generally presented to the client by the advisor, so it is important that they meet high standards of professionalism and quality,” he says.

“When we came across Ecrion’s XF Rendering Server product, we had been searching for a new report generation tool to improve the overall quality of our financial reports. We wanted a tool that supported PDF generation because it is the best format for distributing our reports over the internet. Previously, we used a product that generated our reports from an HTML data source. While this was a convenient solution, our report generator did not support high quality graphics (SVG, TIFF, EPS), font embedding, repeatable headers and footers, or even decent control of page breaks using keeps, widows, and orphans,” Mr. Welsh says. “Simply put, we needed a real page description language like XSL-FO so that we could take our reports to the next level.”

He continues, “The beauty of the Ecrion product was that not only did it support most of the XSL-FO functionality we needed, but it also came with add-ons like XF Designer, XCharts, and the ability to generate XSL-FO content in numerous output formats. At first we didn’t realize we needed some of these features, but several of them have proven quite useful.”

“For instance, we use the HTML output option to display specific sections of our reports on our website in HTML, and it’s helpful not having to maintain code to generate the same content in both HTML and XSL-FO,” says Mr. Welsh.

“We simply generate the XSL-FO and use the HTML output setting, and the result looks great.”

He says, “We also use the image output option to generate thumbnails of our report pages for our contextual popup help. The documentation that comes with the product had helpful sample code that made implementation easy.”

The XF Designer is a tool Financeware uses for mocking up proposed changes and enhancements, experimenting with new features, or simply to locate and resolve problems with report content during development. “While the Designer isn’t perfect, it would have taken us significantly more time to develop our reports without it. Furthermore, none of the competitors we looked at offered anything like it,” Mr. Welsh says.

“We have also made use of XCharts, the included SVG-based charting tool, to generate 3D pie charts. One of our goals was to have higher quality charts and illustrations in our reports. We wanted them to look as good in print as the rest of the report.,” he says. “The XCharts help us to achieve this goal by using a scalable graphics format like SVG. We have also incorporated other SVGs into the reports, and they all print and scale well.”

Mr. Welsh continues, “Perhaps the most useful aspect of the Ecrion package is the technical support. We have been pleasantly surprised at their responsiveness and willingness to add new features to the program that help us to solve our problems.”

“Early on we were worried about speed because our reports can be quite sizable – well over 200 pages at times. We had tried other XSL-FO PDF generators that were faster but also more expensive and less suited to our needs. The technical support staff undertook this problem, and they were eventually able to beat the performance of the other product,” he says. “During our lengthy evaluation period, they made several other improvements that we have incorporated into our reports, and I believe they have made a big difference in the overall quality of our reports and the report generation process as a whole.”

“Lastly, I cannot stress how valuable it is to have a relationship with a company that we can depend upon to work with us to help us to deliver the type of quality product that our customers can rely on,” Mr. Welsh says. “And that is the most important thing to us, providing quality products and services to financial advisors that help clients to live the one life they have the best way they can.” You can learn more at  www.financeware.com.

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