What does a portfolio manager do?

Jeff New has six-and-a-half hours each trading day to juggle three mutual funds and dozens of stocks. How does the senior portfolio manager at Van Kampen Funds keep up on the most relevant financial data and analysis? Four or five times a week, he clicks through a series of live, Web-exclusive broadcast reports from Wall Street analysts.

No joke. Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers, Credit Suisse First Boston, and Morgan Stanley are among the first investment banks to Webcast their own content to larger institutional clients. Internet video streamed directly to select client desktops is just the latest method used by the banks to get their analysts in-or at least near-clients’ faces. Merrill Lynch also is introducing this new financial channel to retail investors.

Today, Merrill Lynch transmits 4 to 12 hours of live content around the world daily. Clients receive 5- to 10-minute audio clips of morning calls, video market updates, company reports, or interviews with executives. Money managers can visit Merrill’s site, sign in, view the Webcast of their choice or choose to receive upcoming reports by email. For now, the Web is best at streaming brief audio and video segments-CEO interviews and market and sector updates work well, for instance. Longer, more interactive Webcasts may involve slides of charts and graphs that highlight the key points of a particular report. And money managers can dial in and ask analysts questions in a conference call format. Even users running high-speed office connections, however, may find the Webcasts halting-unless they like twitching, pixilated images of analysts and tinny voices. Continue reading “What does a portfolio manager do?”