When it comes to investment vehicles, advisors want everything, they want it cheap, and they want it carefully vetted before they decide to use it for their clients. So how does Pershing Advisor Solutions attempt to meet those often conflicting needs? Natalie Wolfsen, who became head of product management and development for PAS in July 2009 after holding a similar position at Schwab, says her team uses a four-point process to determine what products to include on the platform that considers the market size, growth rate, client need and competitive position of the vehicles. Then, using input from Jim Dario’s relationship management team and an advisor advisory board and questionnaires to clients to help it determine not just “what” but “how” it is delivered; is it integrated with tools and research, for instance?
Since, says Wolfsen, (left), PAS serves sophisticated advisors serving clients with complex needs, their focus is not on finding the cheapest ETF or producing proprietary products, but providing access to an open architecture platform with a wide range of products, especially global products and multi-currency trading. “We can best serve our advisors,” states Wolfsen, “by providing access to low-cost ETFs manufactured by everyone.”
Sandra Motusesky, director of investment solutions in the product management and development group at Pershing, uses the example of alternative investments as the “best example of where our product development is going right now.” The alternative investments on the Pershing platform, she says, “are designed around what the advisors need right now.”
That commitment to meeting advisor clients’ needs led Pershing, says Wolfsen, to be a beta participant “with DTCC and AIP to solve the issues industry-wide.” Now that the beta testing with DTCC and AIP are complete, Wolfsen says Pershing continues work “so alternative invests can be custodied on our platform.” Motusesky says one of the differentiators at Pershing is that “we didn’t say ‘Alternatives could be a problem,’ but rather ‘How can we make this work?’” Wolfsen puts it another way: “We understand that our clients need investment solutions to serve the needs of their clients. Alternatives perform an important role in portfolios, and we needed to find a solution.”