Pershing's incoming CEO sees opportunity in high-demand advisory services

James Crowley says the custodian is focusing on IT improvements and enhancing the client experience

Jun 12, 2019 @ 2:32 pm

By Mark Schoeff Jr.

Pershing's incoming chief executive said Wednesday the custodian is focused on taking advantage of the increasing market for investment advice and helping advisers on its platform expand their businesses with faster technology and richer data.

"The wealth and advisory services business is in greater demand today than ever before from all of your investors," Pershing chief operating officer James Crowley told about 2,000 attendees at the firm's Insite conference in Phoenix. "There are too few people to help all these investors. With this undersupply of advisers and this greater demand from investors, it's a wonderful opportunity for us."

Mr. Crowley, who will take over as Pershing CEO on July 1, said investors also are seeking more than guidance on their portfolios.

"They're looking for life-planning advice, a major shift," he said.

He said the total advice industry asset pool is about $7 trillion and is increasing at about 10% annually. The advisers on the Pershing platform are growing "a couple percentage points faster than your peer group, and that's exciting," he said.

Pershing had 744 registered investment advisers on its platform as of March. Pershing had approximately $655 billion in advisory assets in the first quarter. Pershing is a division of BNY Mellon.

Pershing announced Wednesday it is taking steps to improve its technology offerings through "open architecture" and to help advisers digitize their businesses. The goal is to improve the client experience, Mr. Crowley said.

"We constantly hear the drumbeat: Please do more. Please do it faster," he said.

Pershing is attempting to streamline client onboarding and enable advisers to better manage their businesses through more robust data.

One new product is called the Money in Motion Dashboard, designed to help advisers measure their business performance and identify key trends through net asset flows. Envestnet recently introduced a similar product.

"Rapid advances in technology are changing expectations and creating new pressure points for our industry," Ram Nagappan, Pershing chief information officer, said in a statement. "The need to operate with speed and efficiency is becoming more profound, forcing firms to modernize technology and digitize service."

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