There’s plenty going on at Pershing Advisor Solutions, the RIA custody arm of Pershing, which is the clearing and custody arm for Bank of New York Mellon. Mark Tibergien, who joined PAS in October 2007 and whose fingerprints are all over the company now, likes to talk about the global reach of Pershing, which he says benefits advisors who want to trade on one of 30 different exchanges around the world, in that exchange’s local currency. Tibergien also talks about the features that are available already on NetX360, Pershing’s technology platform, such as one sign-on access to not only PAS assets, but also held-away assets. He’ll speak about the benefits of Pershing providing bank custody, not just brokerage custody, of client assets to its advisors through its BNY Mellon connection. He’ll talk about the importance attached to advisor customer service. He’ll relate the work Pershing has done with DTCC to make it possible for advisors to confidently custody alternative assets on the PAS platform.
In the end, though, it seems that what Tibergien has created at Pershing is a company that values people in its firm so much that it will make sure it puts the appropriate people in the right spots—Pershing veterans when appropriate, and new hires when that approach is called for. That’s not surprising, considering that Tibergien has been using his bully pulpit while at consulting firm Moss Adams (and in his long-time column for this magazine) to argue that advisors need to more effectively use their staffs to build better businesses, that older advisors who build succession plans for themselves and career paths for younger advisors will be more successful, and that the entire industry must find and cultivate thousands of new advisors in the few short years ahead if the industry is to continue to grow.
But in good Pershing fashion, this focus on human capital doesn’t just place those leaders in the right spot, it then measures their effectiveness. People, people, people. Measure, measure, measure. There’s one other thing: Pershing Advisor Solutions is a place where the people share a vision that emanates from Tibergien, but is clearly internalized.
Lest you think that PAS is one big love-fest, be aware that Mr. Tibergien and those same people have a competitive streak that leads them to point out, respectfully but forcefully, where PAS shimmers while Schwab Advisor Services, Fidelity Institutional and TD Ameritrade pale by comparison.
Forget imitation being the sincerest form of flattery (though this writer last year explored another custodian that is part of a major bank—RBC Advisor Services—which seemed to share an eerily similar business model with PAS). The most telling form of flattery may be raiding the competition’s executive ranks and placing them in positions of authority at PAS, as has been done with Jim Dario—whom Tibergien calls his most critical hire to date—and Kim Dellarocca, both formerly of Fidelity, in the relationship management and marketing areas. Or Natalie Wolfsen, formerly of Schwab, in product. Or Chris Child, also formerly of Schwab, and Evan LaHuta in customer service.
“If you can’t beat them,” says Tibergien with his trademark pithiness, “hire them.”
The State of Pershing Advisor Solutions
“The keys to engagement” in human capital at Pershing and, by extension, at advisory firms, “are putting people in the right jobs, and creating an environment where they’ll flourish,” Tibergien says. Such engagement, he argues, “creates a better employee, somebody who will look for continual improvement, and act like an owner of the business.”
So what is this business where the Pershing Advisor Solutions’ employees are encouraged to act like an owner? Tibergien says that when he joined PAS in October 2007, the firm had already made a commitment to serving wealth managers and that it had an opportunity to be a “world-class custodian” but in a different way than its “dominant” competitors. So he began by assessing the “great talent” he had at Pershing, but who were “not aligned right; not in the right leadership positions.” To begin, he placed Pershing veteran Karen Novak as COO, and Ron Canty as director of operations.
About a year into his tenure, Tibergien hired Jim Dario from Fidelity, who he says has brought “real professionalism” to relationship management and business development. He then mentions the hiring of Natalie Wolfson from Schwab to be head of product development, and a total of 19 customer service staffers from Schwab’s Lake Mary, Fla., facility, including Chris Child to run PAS customer service which, he says, “wasn’t bad, but was inconsistent.” Hearkening back to the people-plus-measurement ethos referenced above, Tibergien can now boast that in customer service, “we measure everything that moves—promptness of returning calls, and with helpful answers; our customer service scores have made dramatic improvements.”
He then discusses Pershing’s technology investments that led to the rollout last year of the NetX360 technology platform, on which he said 500 programmers worked and on which enhancements continue to be made.