Advent Software is at one of the more challenging junctures of its storied path as a provider of financial software. Many of the biggest RIAs already manage their assets on its portfolio management systems and rely on its ability to generate slick, accurate reports for clients.

Now Advent is forging ahead – and starting to get traction with selling — Advent Portfolio Exchange (APX). But it is also working hard not to alienate the 3,000 advisors who still use its legacy product, Advent Axys. There are about 600 advisory firm that use APX.

I travelled to San Francisco to meet Advent’s president, Peter Hess, to learn more about how his company is working this juggling act. RIABiz Tech Reviewer Heather Underwood and Nevin Freeman, who heads up our technology efforts at RIABiz also participated in the meeting.

I also asked a series of questions about how Advent is working to improve its reputation. The company has been criticized for complex, opaque pricing, and for being unfriendly to software integration.

Upcoming article

Hess was very forthright and even contrite at times. Mostly he was plain positive. I will save his comments to us for our upcoming article that will run on Monday.

But here are comments he made to analysts in a recent conference call about his company’s first quarter results. Advent’s revenues were $66.7 million for the quarter that ended March 31, compared to $66.3 million for same period in 2009. It’s earnings were $4.2 million for the quarter that ended March 31, down from $5.4 million in the first quarter of 2009.

The good news for Advent: The term license and Advent OnDemand SM contaracts signed in the first quarter will contribute $7.3 million in annual revenues once they’re implemented. Enthusiasm over these contracts was reflected in Hess’ conference call remarks.

APX 3.0, I’ve said internally: it’s the release that I’ve always been waiting for,” he said.

Outlook for bookings

He added: “I can tell you that I feel pretty good about the outlook for bookings. I’m not going to speculate how we’ll compare with prior years. I think we’ll definitely do better than we did last year. Whether we’ll do better than we did in 2008 or 2007, tough to say, but I think this first quarter actually was one of the best first quarter’s we’ve ever had if not the best.”

For the upcoming article, I also spoke to some Advent competitors who say they are having success winning Axys clients. Here is what Stepahanie Di Marco, chairman and founder of Advent, had to say about the competition in the quarterly conference call with analysts.

“Certainly it’s a competitive market and our competitors are coming out with new products,” she said. “I would say that we’re far ahead of most of our competitors…I think our win rates are very, very high, continue to be very, very high and that’s probably our best proxy for how we’re doing relative to investment spend.”

Note: Subsequent to our visit, we participated in a demonstration of APX 3.0. Heather Underwood is in the process of completing that review and it, too, will run soon on RIABiz.