According to Ben Harrison, the head of business development and relationship management at Pershing Advisor Solutions, advisory assets have grown to almost half of all assets under custody at Pershing. That makes it Pershing’s fastest-growing business unit and the rate of growth will only accelerate in the wake of the Department of Labor's new fiduciary rule for advisors to retirement accounts.
“The marketplace is really shifting from an environment where financial service providers were traditionally professional sellers of product,” Harrison told WealthManagement.com at the 18th annual Pershing INSITE conference, which attracted 2,000 people to Orlando this week. “Advisors are consumers in terms of the way they interact with their clients, providing solutions (rather than) selling them investment products."
To help registered representatives make the switch and remain compliant, Pershing plans to launch a suite of resources and business solutions.
Pershing is also making changes to the way it approaches third-party technology developers by opening up its platforms to outside developers. In a panel discussion, BNY Mellon chief information officer Suresh Kumar and CEO Brian Shea explained that they examined the most valuable companies today—like Apple, Amazon and Google—to see what they had in common. Kumar said the difference is that unlike financial services, those companies use a single digital platform to offer a variety of services, unlike financial services, which still takes a more piecemeal approach.
Ram Nagappan, managing director and chief information officer at Pershing, explained that this is the reason behind opening up Pershing’s application program interface (API) and creating a marketplace for integration with third-party applications. Ram said it will let advisors choose which products work best for them, foster more rapid innovation as well as allow better seamless integration, and allow Pershing to better focus on their primary mission of serving advisors.
In her keynote remarks, Pershing CEO Lisa Dolly said the fastest-growing advisors are the firms taking advantage of digital technology; their research shows 90 percent of "digitally enabled" advisors increased their assets under management at rates over those that weren't.
“[You can] create transparency and use real data to inform the way you operate your business,” Shea said. “In this market, advisors are always trying to scale and grow their practice… the digitization of financial advice is an opportunity to do that.”
In addition to technology, Pershing is also changing the financial products it offers to meet the needs of its growing advisory force. Justin Fay, Pershing’s director of Financial Solutions, Alternative Investments and ETFs, said advisors are demanding better information and access to hedge funds and fund of funds managers.
To meet the demand, Pershing announced that it added AltX, a hedge fund intelligence platform, to NetX360’s alternative investment center. AltX will provide hedge fund market data, insights and analytics from Morningstar and Blue Vault Partners on 300 private funds.
The program will evaluate those funds across 26 metrics such as strategy, AUM, historical returns and information around subscription, redemption and regulation. AltX also provides advisors with daily hedge fund news, printable fund reports, screening tools, whitepapers and commentary.
“We’ve seen continued demand from advisors serving high-net-worth investors to access hedge funds, with hedge fund and fund of funds assets making up over a quarter of the alternative investment assets on Pershing’s platform,” Fay said. “We added AltX to address this demand and help serve our clients more effectively by providing them with the tools and education they need to make well-informed decisions as they explore hedge fund opportunities for their suitable clients.”
More than 230 broker/dealers and 500 RIAs already use the NetX360’s alternative investment center, and Fay expects to integrate with other services similar to AltX in the future to meet demand for other alternative strategies and products.