The annual Pershing INSITE conference keeps getting bigger and better, event organizers say. This year’s INSITE 2007, held June 6-8 at the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood, Fla., drew up to 1,000 client guests (including walk-in attendees) and about 500 others, at least a 25 percent increase from last year.
And financial advisors clearing through the Bank of New York-owned organization continue to attend “for the differentiated, value-added experience,” says Ron Fiske, a Pershing Managing Director. This year, for instance, Pershing added a laboratory track to give advisors more “hands-on” time with NetExchange platform to “help you grow your business,” Fiske says.
“We are committed to continuous improvement,” adds Pershing COO Brian Shea. Pershing recently gave its broker-dealer clients the ability to set up health-care savings accounts to individual investors, for instance.
And in 2006, an average of 1.6 accounts moved over to Pershing from the top 10 broker-dealers, for every 1 account that left the firm. That represented some 233,015 incoming clients and 149,615 outgoing ones. “Our clients are gaining market share,” says Shea.
Gen. Colin Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State, addressed the conference on the first day of the event. Powell, who jokes that he misses having his own 757 to fly around in, says the United States “must remain open” as a culture or risk losing more foreign visitors, such as students, to other countries. “Leadership is about fellowship,” explains Powell.
To increase the exchange of open information between the 44,500 employees of the U.S. State Department during the first term of President George W. Bush, Powell pushed for a new computer system. “Great leaders face reality,” Powell shares. This can mean putting in new technology, but it also encompasses more sweeping change – as in the case of Perestroika under Mikhail Gorbachev in the former Soviet Union and the acceptance of capitalism by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping.
In terms of U.S.-China relations, Powell says the situation is stable, since both nations agree that trade is the way to improve wealth and human capital. The only hitch would be if Taiwan were to claim independence from mainland China, which would risk war.
China’s rising demand for energy resources is seen by that nation’s leaders as an issue of national security. “It will not be deterred,” Powell says. The country also has a large appetite for investment and education and is embracing the University of Liverpool, England, as a model for its higher education.
“In the United States, we must remember that our universities are not failing, but our K-12 educational system is, which affects our 300 million residents. And education is central to wealth creation, Powell remarks.
In the Middle East, “the United States is not facing reality,” he says. “In Iraq, the insurgency has led to civil war, and if we can’t solve it, we should let the Iraqi people solve it on their own.” He said that the 500,000 U.S. troops, many of whom have been asked to return for duty in Iraq, cannot continue to sustain this burden.
“The world is in transition, and this is being driven by a lack of boundaries, information technology and the information revolution, and the desire for economic growth,” explains Powell. But this growth must include “the creation of wealth for all and not just for a small group.”
Powell, the son of Jamaican immigrants, shared the emotional experience he has had in New York, when hot dog vendors recognize him and refuse to charge him for a snack. This gesture, he says, represents their recognition of what America has done for them. “We should protect our borders. But we have 12 million (illegal) immigrants here who work and contribute to our economy. There should be a way to ‘regularize’ them.”
The threat of terrorism, Powell explains, is real. “They can hurt us, but they cannot destroy us,” he says. The attitude of European leaders like former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair is one the United States should model. “They acknowledged the damage caused by the terrorist bombs and then got on with it. Yes, terrorists are a threat, but they can never control us … We cannot listen to such fears.”
Former national economic advisor Laura D’Andrea Tyson highlighted the growing importance of trade in the U.S. and global economy in her June 7 talk. Exports and imports now represent more than 30 percent of our gross domestic product, she says. Yet, many nations have become less dependent on the U.S. economy for growth and stability vs. the 1990s.