One of the highlights of the annual interviews with Pershing executives at the firm’s annual Insite conference is always (for this writer) taking some time to look at the company’s technology platform for advisors and broker-dealers. Usually, Suresh Kumar is the lead technologist at the event, but this year he’s passed on his wizard’s crown to the equally passionate Lucille Mayer, who has become co-CIO of Pershing, sharing the title with Ram Nagappan, as Kumar has been named chief information officer at parent company BNY Mellon.
In an interview Wednesday with Mayer (left) and Michelle Gutierrez, a Pershing director on the technology team, the two executives discussed the current state of Pershing technology and some planned enhancements, listing three main focuses, including one that was announced publicly during the conference.
That first focus is on NetExchange Client, the end client application of Pershing’s NetX360 technology platform. Having done “lots of usability work” to determine how to enhance the client experience, Mayer said that the enhancements being rolled out in 2012, beginning in July, include a redesign that features more white space, a streamlined user interface and additional content options. At the discretion of the client’s advisor or broker-dealer, using an approach called “dynamic entitlement,” end clients have access to a revised suite of market research, news and commentary.
If the advisor or broker-dealer is an Albridge customer, the client can also be given access to their entire aggregated accounts, she said. Pershing acquired access to the data aggregation firm Albridge Solutions’ offerings when BNY Mellon purchased PNC’s Global Investment Servicing operations in 2010.
The second focus is providing access through NetX360 to Pershing’s Managed Account Solutions (MAS) platform, including the separately managed account offerings of Lockwood Advisors. Again using Albridge technology to enhance SMA performance reporting, and going beyond “single sign-on,” said Mayer, to provide a more integrated experience for advisors using managed accounts, which Mayer believes represents a “tremendous area of potential growth.”
In a separate interview, Steve Dunlap, president of Pershing MAS, said the enhancements give advisors the ability to “explain important concepts to clients” but then to provide performance reporting to the client’s entire portfolio. “Ultimately,” said Dunlap, “ the final vision would be a unified managed household (UMH) platform.”
The third focus, said Mayer and Gutierrez, is a strategy called “complete business solutions.” Now in beta testing, the approach focuses on easing the client onboarding process to provide an “consistent experience” for the advisor, regardless of whether client funds are in a Pershing account or invested directly. By year-end or first quarter 2013, that process will include e-signatures.
The team is also working on providing mobile access on both iPads and iPhones to not only view portfolio data but also to make transactions.
Mayer's co-CIO, Nagappan, like many top Pershing executives, has a long tenure—24 years—at the company and played a key role in architecting DLJ Direct, one of the first online brokerage platforms. Mayer joined Pershing in 1990.
Mayer and Nagappan are not the only members of Pershing's leadership team to be promoted lately. Jim Crowley, head of broker-dealer clearing, has been named chief relationship officer for the company; while Caroline O'Connell, a Pershing managing director responsible for marketing and communications, among other duties, has been named to the additional post of chief strategy officer.