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Boston Financial, SEI, John Hancock Take Top Honors

Boston Financial Data Services, SEI and John Hancock take top honors in SourceMedia's 2006 Fund Operations Awards. Now in its fourth year, the awards program is sponsored by Money Management Executive and judged by a panel of leading industry consultants, with the winners cited at this week's National Investment Company Service Association general membership meeting in Wellesley Hills, Mass. As in the past, the awards honor industry leaders in three categories: Leadership, Innovation and Efficiencies/Streamlining.

This year's judges include Geoff Bobroff, president of Bobroff Consulting of East Greenwich, R.I.; Ian Frost, vice president and director at The Boston Consulting Group of Boston; Bob Goldberg, president emeritus of NICSA of Marlborough, Mass.; and Steven Miyao, chief executive officer of kasina of New York.

Many thanks to these industry experts for giving so generously of their time, and to the companies that submitted entries.

Stephen Hooley, president and chief executive officer of Boston Financial Data Services of Boston, is the winner of this year's first-place award for Leadership.

DST Systems and State Street Corp. nominated Hooley for his excellent client service and penchant for developing relationships with people across all levels of an organization at Boston Financial's clients - but most notably for spearheading a project to publish a resource guide for mutual fund directors.

Hooley joined Boston Financial in 2004 and the following year, in light of the new regulations that the Securities and Exchange Commission has imposed on the fund industry, began work on the guide. Called "Building Investor Confidence: A Guide for Mutual Fund Boards of Directors," the handbook covers a myriad of issues facing today's mutual fund boards of directors, including working with the firm's chief compliance officer. It is based on information issued by the SEC, as well as industry articles and publications, and was written with assistance from DST and State Street.

The first section of the 148-page guide gives an overview of directors' duties, including fiduciary responsibilities, details about specific laws and guidelines on how to work with the CCO. The second section gives in-depth descriptions of a mutual fund's four key service providers - the transfer agent, custodian, accounting agent and administrator - and specific questions that the board should be asking each of these parties.

Demand for the guide has far exceeded Boston Financial's expectations. The company initially sent 236 copies to CCOs in its first mailing and received requests for nearly 1,000 more. DST initially sent the guide to 57 client firms and eventually sent out another 676 copies. State Street initially issued 90 copies and received requests for 70 more.

Eric Falkeis, vice president of fund administration at U.S. Bancorp of Minneapolis, has won this year's second place for Leadership, for guiding U.S. Bancorp in automating financial reporting for mutual funds. He participated in a research project that enabled Confluence of Pittsburgh to examine the financial reporting workflow processes for multiple mutual fund clients of U.S. Bancorp and, as a result, develop an automated solution to streamline financial reporting.

As a result, the time it now takes an equity mutual fund to prepare a schedule of investments, using the Confluence Clear Portfolio for Financial Reporting software, has been reduced from 12 to 24 hours to an average of four hours, and the time it takes a fixed income fund to prepare a schedule of investments is now eight to 12 hours, down from 21 to 26 hours. Even more significantly, the number of errors found in the review process was reduced by 75%.

Before the development of this software, U.S. Bancorp relied on disconnected and redundant processes that caused unnecessary steps in the creation of reports - and a good deal of room for error. In fact, to put together a quarterly report on all funds' schedules of investments, holdings reports and various third-party surveys from start to finish took between four and six weeks. Fund accounting and SIC codes had to be manually typed into spreadsheets and checked against original statements or third-party data, and one-off corrections were then made in those spreadsheets.

Today, U.S. Bancorp collects data from a data warehouse twice a month and imports it automatically into the Clear Portfolio software to create the schedules of investments. Each of these reports can be automatically mapped to meet the needs of a specific client. The bottom-line results are decreased costs, reduced risk, greater scalability, enhanced customer service and better portfolio management.

The transfer agency team of BISYS Fund Services (Ireland) is the winner of the third place, Leadership, for developing a fund accounting, distribution support, transfer agency and compliance support system that is available in nine languages, offers 24-hour service and can be accessed remotely around the world.

Perhaps more importantly, it automates trades using standards from the Society for Worldwide Inter-