Christina Townsend T3
Pershing's Christina Townsend

T3: Pershing and AdvisorEngine Integrate, Support Paperless Onboarding

Shifting from a focus on proprietary processes to one of providing easy access to data helped Pershing expedite the integration with AdvisorEngine.

Digital wealth management platform AdvisorEngine and custodian Pershing kicked off today’s round of T3 announcements in Denton, Texas, with an integration that will support paperless onboarding and business process automation. Broker/dealers, RIAs and home offices that use BNY Mellon’s Pershing as a custodian will be able to easily manage their firm's branding and advisor branding of client-facing technology, as well as execute custom fee billing, by taking advantage of the AdvisorEngine integration.

In an effort to speed up the onboarding and account-opening process, which in some cases will be reduced from hours to minutes, AdvisorEngine streamlined the not-in-good-order notifications, fee-scheduling process and end-client information inputting that tends to create headaches for advisors, said Rich Cancro, founder and CEO of the firm. Instead of NIGO notifications coming a day after an application is submitted, the integration triggers a real-time message so that advisors or their administrators, or even end clients who are in the midst of the process, can start working to solve any problems. Fee schedules can be set up at once. And end-client information needs to be added only once—and is dynamic, so each question that’s answered will trigger the next applicable question.

The integration will be big for the institutional client base, predicted Cancro. “Think of what this enables now. [Institutions] can have an advisor in the bank branch, and they can onboard a client and have an advisor relationship,” he said. “But that bank also can now have a direct-to-consumer offering that they can offer to their banking clients, their mortgage clients, their credit card clients.”

“It’s empowering the three core business channels for institutional firms: advisor-driven, B2C and the midtier of do-it-yourself with digital onboarding, but you have access to an advisor,” he added.

For Pershing, the integration clearly signals a shift taking place at the custodian. “A few years ago, we were focused more on being proprietary,” said Christina Townsend, director and head of advisor solutions platform strategy at Pershing. “However, we’ve shifted our strategy and are very, very focused on providing easy access—for both our clients and vendors—to consume the technology and data and documents that we have as a custodian. It’s a fundamental shift in how we look at the world.”

Integrations that streamline account openings and facilitate other business processes between digital wealth management platforms and custodians are a theme advisors are hoping to see more of; Schwab and Orion finalized a similar digital account opening process last year. “What this is really about is helping firms truly scale their businesses,” said Cancro. “That’s what we talk about with smart integration.”

Looking forward, AdvisorEngine is exploring how it can integrate with other custodians. “A key part to our integration strategy is being integrated with key custodians,” said Cancro. Future developments could also include using firm and advisor data to provide insight into how advisors stack up to their peers, potentially using a gamification strategy, he said. “I’m a big fan of gamification, and advisors are competitive. If you’re providing information that they care about, I think they’re going to be very excited about it.”

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