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Pershing’s New Advisor Tech Experience

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If you want to get a glimpse into the future of advisor technology, spend an hour with Ram Nagappan, chief information officer of Pershing.

He and his team of technologists in the Advanced Technology Lab at Pershing have been very busy developing the next iteration of Pershing’s workstation, and are beginning to deploy some very advanced technology to make advisor’s lives easier.

Nagappan and his crew held court at the annual Pershing INSITE conference held in mid-June in sunny San Diego, where over 2,000 attendees packed into the Manchester Grand Hyatt for three days of networking, industry content and technology demonstrations.

(Related: Packers’ Aaron Rodgers on Leadership, Post-NFL Career: Pershing Insite)

As part of an aggressive technology rollout, Pershing is launching a re-design of its popular NetX360 workstation, used by over 100,000 advisors on a daily basis. Called NetX360-Wealth, the new front-end portal will provide what Pershing is calling the “Integrated Wealth Experience.”

According to Nagappan, the Integrated Wealth Experience is a quantum-leap technology initiative designed to focus on experience-centric designs, an improvement upon current advisor technology that is focused on account- or transaction-based experiences.

“What we are doing is taking the entire value chain of work that an advisor and their staff does — from prospecting to planning to onboarding to trading, reporting and ongoing client management — and creating a seamless, integrated experience,” Nagappan said.

This differs from the current custodial industry technology approach that is more task-based or menu-driven, which results in a workflow that is not consistent, prone to errors and requires manual entry, pulling data from multiple, disparate systems.

“We are creating workflow orchestration behind the scenes to remove the complexity so that we can provide a singular experience,” Nagappan said.

As part of this new approach, Pershing is creating three levels of integration experiences. The first is an all-Pershing system, designed for advisors and firms that don’t want to worry about licensing software from multiple third-party vendors. The second is a multiple portal view, which brings in data from third-party systems that advisors may have already purchased for CRM or financial planning via Pershing’s recently launched API Store, a facility to enable tight integrations with Pershing’s systems and third party apps. The third portal is a custom portal, which allows typically larger firms to control the entire advisor experience by integrating with a customized technology stack that the firm has designed or built.

“The intent of the Integrated Wealth Experience is to deliver flexibility, choice and a foundation for integrating Pershing’s systems or a third party’s or a custom version,” Nagappan noted.

AI, Voice Recogntion

Moving into the near future, Nagappan demonstrated some of the cool tech that will be available to advisors, beginning with Pershing’s “Digital Assistant.” The Digital Assistant will be adopted into the NetX360-Wealth platform via “Ask Me” functionality through popular voice recognition devices such as Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home.

Advisors will be able to simply use voice commands to initiate service requests or get account information, or to start various workflow processes. Leveraging chatbot capabilities, the Ask Me functionality will be able to relay information back to advisors either through typing back requests, or verbalizing them through voice recognition devices. 

Nagappan acknowledges that these are emerging use cases, and as the system is nurtured, more and more functionality will be delivered via these innovative technologies.

When Pershing adds in the latest artificial intelligence from IBM Watson, advisors will have access to predictive analytics about their clients and their practices, such as predicting certain life events for clients that could trigger money in motion scenarios, or to get advance warning for when a client is at risk for leaving.

(Related: IBM Releases Watson-Powered Regtech Software)

For example, by integrating Watson into NetX360, advisors will get alerts regarding predictions for various clients changing jobs, getting married, the birth of a child and more. To better understand client attrition, Watson will be able to alert advisors that a certain client may be thinking of leaving, based on money withdrawals, frequency and time of day of logins, comparing performance of the portfolio to the markets, etc.

Additional cool tech that is making its way into the Pershing Integrated Wealth Experience comes from Affectiva, an emerging technology firm that can detect emotions, simply by scanning your face. By detecting emotions such as confusion or anger, the chatbot will be able to better tailor answers to users’ questions.

All of these new technologies will be further integrated into the Digital Assistant over time, so that the answers, predictions and service the Digital Assistant will be able to provide will become more and more compelling. 

Pulling a page from the Burger King playbook, Nagappan describes all of these initiatives as, “We are building IT the way you want it.”

To learn more about what went on at the 2017 Pershing INSITE conference, check out the many tweets on the #realINSITE hashtag on Twitter.

— Read New Cetera Tool Will Use Facial Recognition to Measure Client Emotions on ThinkAdvisor.


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