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Fortigent, LLC Reviews

21 Reviews
2.9
21 Reviews
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Jamie McIntyre
7 Ratings
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    A company in transition, in an industry in transition to online service

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    Former Employee - Software Developer  in  Rockville, MD
    Former Employee - Software Developer in Rockville, MD

    I worked at Fortigent, LLC full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    Smart people, personable, merging with larger parent corporation. Opportunity to influence a larger more staid development team. Incredible growth opportunity if they expand their software service offerings to institutional investment providers (banks) and their base of accounts explodes.

    Great automated continuous build process. Centralized code sharing and compilation-test makes it easy to share with other developers. Automated user interface test is not up to speed yet.

    Dot Net shop, with a C#, VB, MS-Server, Knockout.js, AutoFac stack. Uses SVN/Tortoise and GIT/Tortoise repositories as required for different storage. Parent company wants to go to Agile.js

    Cons

    Merging into new parent company. Converting into silos of development as the team expands and the projects increase. Despite the paen to Agile development, the process is fairly loose, and the higher levels of Agile organization are slight. This may be changing, but there is going to be a large learning process before the different silos operate together with capable leaders for each team. All this may become futile if the organization is subsumed in the much larger parent company (LPL Financial), that acquired them two years ago and is now merging development processes across the extended company.

    The financial reporting software that Fortigent has been existing on is at once complex and at the same time limited to reporting. Hence there is an effort to grow it by extending it to support institutional accounts and limited trading. This expansion of the scope of their business to trading, brings in another level of complexity. I was surprised that the reporting software Fortigent provides is at the same time exalted and considered novel in the outside world. Doesn't everyone offer this level of reporting? But that is their market niche.

    The Fortigent subsidiary is not, to my knowledge, making money. This leaves them less leeway with the parent company, and makes it more likely that some or all of the parts will be co-opted into the LPL organization if they stumble, or fail to expand profitably.

    There are about 25 personnel in the development team. The core team is small. Perhaps 10 key experienced personnel, including the CEO and managers. Several senior developers have left over the last year, making it hard to pick up the pieces and offer a smooth continuation path. Due to the team size, there tends to be one or two talented individuals in any particular category.

    Some of the tools are dated. Two small monitors per developer. Please. There is some small amount of Test-Driven-Design (TDD). The unit testing is good but not total. Committing source code can 'break the build' which will end up hung up for everyone until the source code is fixed. But that's because the source code is so large that it can't be tested locally in time for a quick turn. This is being addressed by spawning test blocks onto local computers to reduce the unit test cycle time. But a better test-before-merge function might help here. Or break the project into smaller pieces.

    It is up to the individual to keenly track what is going on and to stay on top of things.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    You are bringing in a lot of people. You will need to make a better effort at integrating them into the team, and bringing them up to speed on the S/W stack and business model. Its not clear that the new silo-ed teams have enough

    Because of the small team and fast process there may be little feedback to employees. I could see this going on with other people around me as I left, and hope management pays attention to it if they want everyone to succeed.

    The parent company's practice of off-shoring low level business processes is ultimately destructive to maintaining a technical capability nearby, in the US, and they will loose potential customers if they send formerly internal jobs overseas. As Jaron Lanier puts it 'the siren server tries to accumulate all the money, but it can't without destroying the environment itself'.

    The other half of Fortigent's business is selling investing advice. If the market is random and unbiased, then every model will return the same expected result. If it is biased with insider trading then someone is benefiting when they should not be. I don't believe much in the 'favored investment manager' idea, but others may want to buy in to that idea.

    Oh, and keep away from the Dark Pools, when you decide to trade, I hear they are gamed ('Flash Boys').

    And the unspoken threat is, as Jamie said, the online no frills investment house with the generic ETF and cut rate mutual funds - because the advisors can't beat the market in the long term.

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