“Our product today is much better than it was a year ago,” said Suresh Kumar, referring to Pershing’s NetX360 technology platform, thanks to the “crowd sourcing” of its more than 100,000 users. “We’ve received 16,000 to 17,000 requests for changes” from NetX360 users since its June 2009 introduction, Kumar reported in an AdvisorOne Thursday interview at the 13th annual Pershing Insite conference in Hollywood, Fla. And Kumar and his team have made many of those changes, he said.
That willingness to listen to users—who come from both the broker-dealer and the RIA worlds—and make the desired changes to the platform isn’t a strategy that Pershing came up with post-launch, It's also much more than a reflection of Pershing’s commitment to customer service, said Kumar, managing director and chief information officer for Pershing, and Lucille Mayer (right), Pershing’s managing director for technology products and services. “The main theme” of NetX360, says Kumar, is to allow the platform’s users to continue to evolve, regardless of regulatory changes or shifts in the markets.
Rather than taking a top-down approach to its technology, forcing users to adopt to the platform, Pershing continually monitors how its users are actually using the platform and then adapts the user experience to meet users’ preferred ways of using the platform. That might mean making it much easier (in terms of navigation changes) to access a popular application on the platform, for instance.
That attention to users is made easier by Pershing’s continued commitment to technology development, evidenced by CEO Brian Shea’s announcement in a speech during Insite that Pershing will spend $350 million on technology this year.
In a separate interview, Jim Crowley, Pershing’s managing director in charge of broker-dealer clearing, noted that NetX360 has another little-noted feature: it was built right in the middle of the financial crisis. “It allows multiple business models” to operate on the same platform, Crowley said in the interview, pointing out not merely the added efficiency the platform provides, but also the strategic value of having one platform for both the BD and RIA models.