Pershing LLC Chairman and CEO Richard Brueckner, COO Brian Shea, and Managing Director Frank La Salla sat down with Investment Advisor Group Editor-in-Chief and John Sullivan, editor of IA sister publication Boomer Market Advisor and AdvisorBiz.com, for an exclusive interview at the firm’s annual Insite Conference in Hollywood, Florida, on June 11.
What are you hearing from advisors?
“At this conference two years ago, the advisor and RIA attendees wanted to know about international investing, but it was more simple and straightforward, such as: ‘How do I invest in BMW?’” La Salla began. “Today, it’s still about overseas investing, but it is much more sophisticated.”
“In the interim, it was about a massive flight to quality,” Brueckner added.
Specifically, La Salla said attendees want information of two- and three-year foreign paper, such as Australia or even Germany. They are also interested in individual foreign stocks and foreign currency, but also low risk vehicles. Sovereign debt from quality countries is also popular, and Brueckner noted advisors and investors don’t have to go far to get it, naming Canada as one such country.
Who owns the debt that led to the global crisis in 2008, and more recently the crisis in Greece and Portugal?
“Regulators might know, but they don’t talk to one another,” Brueckner said. “Disclosure rules in Europe aren’t like they are in the U.S.” and “Europe needs a systemic regulator like the one we already have in the U.S.,” indicating the Federal Reserve.
What kind of new initiatives are in the works at Pershing?
Specifically, Shea mentioned Pershing’s RIA Complete effort, which gives independent broker/dealers two different options for accommodating reps who are doing, or want to do, advisory work. Some 20 B/Ds are already participating in RIA Complete, said Shea.
Brueckner spoke glowingly about the soon-to-be-closed acquisition of PNC’s Global Investment Servicing (GIS) business, which is a transfer agency but also houses Albridge Solutions, the data aggregation company. Brueckner said “We’ll be able to offer the Albridge Solutions product to our 100,000 customers” who are on Pershing’s one-year-old NetX360 technology platform.
Can we discuss your thoughts on the Volcker rule?
Brueckner calls it problematic. “It’s a rule specific to the domestic market, which makes it difficult to work in an increasingly interconnected global market,” he proffered. “The Europeans are big on the universal banking model, and this rule limits the universal banking model. We don’t engage in a lot of proprietary trading, but sometimes our clients need it, and they will ultimately be negatively impacted by limiting it or by banning it outright.”
Also, said Brueckner, the Volcker Rule is confusing and contradictory. For instance, Congress says it wants every firm engaged in the mortgage-backed securities market to hold least 5% of the assets in MBS in order to have “a stake in the game.” Yet the Volcker Rule would ban firms from seeding their new fund products with their own money, a common practice to attract investors.