Technology's impact on everyday behavior has already forced advisers to rethink how they serve clients. Now it's forcing custodians to reconsider how they're serving advisers.
At an RIA Symposium in New York Tuesday, Evan LaHuta, managing director at Pershing Advisor Solutions, said his firm is looking more closely at how people consume technology to guide Pershing's strategy for advisers. And Pershing is committing more than $50 million towards bringing that strategy to market.
"Everything we are trying to do is through the advisory firm," Mr. LaHuta said. "We know we do our best when we're not even noticed, but how do we put your experience and your brand forward and support that?"
For example, Pershing will soon support cash disbursements via text message. When the adviser initiates a transaction, Pershing can ping the client to let them know and approve the request to move money.
It gives clients the digital mobile experience they are accustomed to, but keeps the adviser in the lead.
Pershing is also moving its NetX360 wealth management platform entirely to the cloud, which Mr. LaHuta said will let the company redesign the look and feel of the platform to adopt a more client-centric, rather than account-centric, approach. The first beta of the new dashboard, which Pershing calls NetX360 Wealth, will be available later this year.
Traditionally, Pershing segmented firms it works with based on the services they offer, such as wealth managers, investment managers and turnkey asset management providers, Mr. LaHuta said. In the new digital world, Pershing is grouping advisory practices into three buckets — adopters, integrators and creators.
Adopters are the firms that get all of their technology from a single provider so that it's as integrated, efficient and easy to use as possible, even if that means conceding a few features. Creators are firms that are large enough to design their own technology products.
Most RIAs fall into the integrators bucket, Mr. LaHuta said. These firms want to take the best technology products available and plug them into an ecosystem where they can work together and share data.
"What we've realized is that historically, our architecture has been supporting each of those separately, and so it was inefficient for us as a large provider," Mr. LaHuta said. The redesign of NetX360 is meant to better support all the types of advisers that custody with Pershing.
The company is also looking for ways to make its technology more personalized, such as adopting dynamic forms that adjust to specific interactions between the adviser and client, and more efficient, such as allowing for the entry of multiple orders at once through NetX360.
Mr. LaHuta cited data showing that companies of all kinds that focus on client experience are growing faster than those that don't, and said it's time for advisers to stop making excuses to avoid digital adoption.
"We're heavily regulated, we've got a lot of rules, we need paperwork, we need to support evidence that it's what the client intended to do — it doesn't matter," he said. The app economy continues to raise the bar of consumer expectations, and advisers have to be mindful of how that drifts into financial services.