Pershing taps Marstone partnership to debut first adviser-focused robo

The platform, which can be white-labeled for advisers, powers risk profiling, account opening and digital advice, and allows advisers to input their own portfolio models

Jun 4, 2015 @ 1:39 pm

By Alessandra Malito

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(Bloomberg News)

Pershing has launched a new robo-adviser with Marstone, a newly-minted online investment and financial-planning technology platform for advisers to use with their clients.

The custody and clearing firm, a subsidiary of BNY Mellon, said Marstone will be a white-labeled platform for advisers, who can customize it. Marstone, which houses its robo-platform on the cloud, powers risk profiling, account opening and digital advice, and allows advisers to input their own portfolio models. The technology will be integrated into Pershing's NetX360.

"It has all the basics you would see in a traditional robo," said Ram Nagappan, managing director and chief information officer of Pershing. "The only difference will be it can be customized."

Although there are robo-advisers that use Pershing's custodial and clearing services, including Personal Capital and Motif Investing, Marstone is the company's own digital-advice offering, to which advisers can add their own branding. It is one of many partners' software that Pershing plans to integrate into its NetX360 platform to help its broker-dealer and financial adviser clients expand their own businesses.

"From start to finish the client relationship and the client experience remains yours," said Lisa Dolly, chief operating officer at Pershing, during her announcement at the Pershing INSITE conference on Wednesday.

Margaret Hartigan, chief executive of Marstone, who has been a financial adviser, said she created the tool to help advisers work and retain their clients' assets, especially when those assets start to transfer to a younger generation. Within the next few decades, $30 trillion of wealth is expected to transfer to younger generations.

Providing a user-friendly digital-advice platform is all about scalability, Ms. Hartigan added.

"We need more tools to automate and scale our businesses," she said. "These businesses are hard to scale. Any tool to help the stay connected with clients I think is beneficial."

Mr. Nagappan said Pershing is digitizing all of its capabilities to be easily integrated and accessible on NetX360.

“Traditionally, people had technology silos — that was just Internet, mobile, social,” Mr. Nagappan said. “But how you put it together is a digital experience.

“That's where the physical and digital world are meeting each other and each is supplementing each other,” he said.

Digital offerings have become the name of the game for financial services technology firms. Earlier this year, Envestnet, a technology-enabled wealth management company, acquired Upside, an online investments platform, and Finance Logix, an online financial planning platform, to expand its digital offerings to its clients.

"This is part defensive and part offensive for Pershing," said Blane Warrene, co-founder of QuonWarrene, a technology consultancy company for financial advisers.

It's a move that makes sense for Pershing, he said, because it will "give [robo-advisory] tools to the advisers that can't build it themselves."

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