Pershing X, a platform that aims to manage and connect multiple technology tools and data sets for advisors, is going to be like “Google Suite” for advisors, according to president Ainslie Simmonds.

The platform is intended to support Pershing’s wealth solutions clients — including broker-dealers, registered investment advisor firms and trust companies — and initially was planned to roll out this year. The platform, which was announced in October 2021 together with Simmonds' appointment, is being built using the foundational components of Pershing’s managed account platform.

Beta clients of Pershing X will begin using the platform in the fourth quarter, with additional capabilities expected to come online in 2023 and beyond, according to a spokesperson of Bank of New York Mellon, the parent company of Pershing.

As the capabilities evolve, additional clients will be onboarded, the spokesperson notes.

The next six months will be a development period for the platform, according to Simmonds.

Once feedback is received from users, the goal will shift to the full rollout of the platform and having three or four apps with plans to eventually add more, Simmonds said last week on the sidelines of Pershing’s Insite 22 conference in Texas.

Ainslie Simmonds
“Just like Google, we're sort of going through the analysis — if we're going to build it ourselves, buy a startup, do a partnership — so we're sort of going through that assessment,” Simmonds, president of Pershing X said. “And for each one of the applications, it doesn't really matter how they come to us — what matters is that they work well together.”

Google Suite — now called Google Workspace — is a collection of cloud computing, productivity and collaboration tools, software and products developed and marketed by Google.

Financial services clients expect the industry’s technology to be as user friendly as the consumer apps they use, such as Uber, DoorDash or Amazon, executives of Charles Schwab and Fidelity have said separately.

Pershing X is meant to “create growth strategies for Pershing in adjacent spaces within the wealth management space,” Rob Cirrotti, head of data and insight, said last week on the sidelines of Insite 22, referring to gaps in the industry.

The beginning involved the gathering of existing businesses — data and analytics led by Cirrotti, portfolio construction and management, and direct indexing.

“So, those three things really are starting to be what I would call the backbone of this advisory set of tools,” Simmonds said.

Pershing acquired Optimal Asset Management, which allows clients and advisors to personalize portfolios, the company announced in December last year. Optimal Asset Management provides investment customization via selections of individual equities in an index, including sustainable investment options.

Freeing Up Time for Client Service

As things moved forward, Simmonds began considering “the white space in this market” and landed on the unequal distribution of time advisors spend behind the desk and with clients — 75% and 25%, respectively. That disparity arises because advising requires the use of six to 12 tools “that don’t talk to each other” — a problem Pershing X aims to solve, she said.

“The reason the applications don't talk to one another is that there's all different kinds of taxonomies, and different data schemes and translation that has to happen in order to get applications to talk to one another,” Cirrotti said.

To solve such a problem requires a diverse set of talent that includes data engineers, analysts and architects, software engineers, design and product managers. The Pershing X team will be composed of about half internal hires and half external, according to Simmonds.

“When you're standing in front of an ambition that big, I actually think it helps you acquire the right kind of talent,” Simmonds said. “You know, you've got to have a big ambition to build something incredible.”

With a focus on interoperability, Pershing X aims to be “not only multi-app, but also multi-custody,” Cirrotti said.

“And so, what clients really want to see is for that data to kind of flow consistently and freely between the applications, so that when they make a change in one place, it flows through to all of the places that it needs to be changed,” he added.

Part of that consistency can be derived from design, Bryan Hamilton, head of design and user experience at Pershing X, said last week during an Insite 22 conference session.

“When you look in aggregate across many advisors, you start to see patterns. What are the flows that work? What are the flows that don't? You can codify those flows, and you can start to offer them as best practices, onboarding,” Hamilton said. “There's different ways in which you can use that information to now make the entire business run more predictably and more efficiently.”

For Simmonds, the design of Pershing X is important, given the current technology landscape within the industry.

“I think the next generation of wealth advisor is not going to stand for the tools that are out there today … you just kind of open one or two of them up, and you feel like you're visiting the '90s,” she said.

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