New efforts are highlighted at Pershing's annual INSITE conference.

    Pershing LLC is aggressively pursuing opportunities in the registered investment advisor (RIA) market segment, and has renamed its key advisor support group as part this new push, company officials said during Pershing's annual INSITE 2005 financial products and service conference in June.
    Pershing personnel interviewed during and after the conference spoke in more detail about the company's plans and said the firm is targeting two segments of the advisor market: dually registered RIAs and fully independent RIAs. Within those segments, they said, Pershing is primarily focusing on firms with more than $100 million is statement equity.
    "Our expertise, our core business, is providing services to firms that in turn provide services to retail investors," said Paul K. Wichman, managing director of Pershing Advisor Solutions. "Our business model is radically different from some of the other RIA custodians. We don't compete for retail clients, and we don't try to force advisors into a cookie-cutter system. We work very hard to provide solutions that meet our clients' needs."
    Pershing Advisor Solutions was formerly know as Pershing Investment Manager Services, through which Pershing, a subsidiary of the Bank of New York, has offered custodial services to registered investment advisors for years. But they did not promote the unit, which one industry observer characterized as the firm's best-kept secret. It accounts for only about $40 billion of the more than $700 billion of assets held at Pershing, most through 900 broker-dealer clients.
    Pershing hosted the annual conference, INSITE 2005, from June 15 through 17 at the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood, Fla. It drew more than 500 attendees (up 30% from 2004) and 89 exhibitors (up 23% from 2004).
    Pershing representatives made it clear that they were committed to serving the needs of RIAs in the future.
    Wichman said servicing dually registered RIAs is a natural extension of his firm's expertise in catering to introducing broker-dealers. By using Pershing services, dually registered RIAs can consolidate all of their assets on one platform.
    Trent Witthoeft, vice president of technology for the group, cited an instance where Pershing created customized XML feeds for a large institutional client as an example of Pershing's ability to adapt its services to the client, as opposed to forcing the client to adapt to them.
    The centerpiece of Pershing's technology offering to advisors is NetExchange Pro, the firm's online brokerage platform that is currently used by more than 76,000 investment professionals. The platform offers advisors access to client accounts (individually or in groups), quotes, investment research, news, sales tools, online forms and a wide array of third-party content.
    Pershing has continued to upgrade third-party content on a regular basis. Within the last year, they have announced agreements to add analytics from Morningstar (a customized package that includes research, hypotheticals and articles), Dow Jones NewsPlus, annuity processing software from Blue Frog solutions Inc., and BNY Jaywalk Consensus Metrics. The latter is an independent equity research consultancy, which represents more than 150 independent research providers covering a universe of more than 4,900 equities. BNY Jaywalk aggregates the recommendations of all their providers into a single consolidated rating, which will be available through NetExchange Pro.
    In the area of portfolio management and reporting, Pershing recently inked a deal with Advent Inc. to make Advent Back Office Service available to their clients. According to Wichman, this service will allow advisors to avail themselves of Advent's proven portfolio management tools, while outsourcing data management and information delivery to Pershing.
    For financial planning software, Pershing has teamed up with EISI to make both NaviPlan Standard, a goal-based financial planning package; and NaviPlan Extended, EISI's sophisticated cash-flow based financial planning program available to Pershing customers. NaviPlan Standard is integrated into the NetExchange Pro platform, while Extended is a standalone offering.
    Pershing offers a mortgage origination program in conjunction with Everbank from within the NetExchange Pro platform. Once an application is submitted, the advisor can track the application's progress from within the NetExchange platform.
    Turnkey separate account services from a number of providers are available through Pershing, including Lockwood, another BNY affiliate, AssetMark and EnvestNet. Within the next three months, the firm will begin offering unbundled separately managed accounts as well.
    Wichman cited Pershing's execution capabilities as another strength. "We regularly deal with institutional brokers, and they hold us to a high standard. Our execution and our pricing are very competitive."
    Looking forward, both Wichman and Witthoeft said they foresee leveraging the abilities of Pershing and its parent Bank of New York in order to deliver additional value to clients. For example one BNY division, BNY SmartSource, currently provides investment operations outsourcing to large firms. As part of this service, BNY SmartSource can run and maintain software applications on behalf of client firms. Wichman and Witthoeft believe there is an opportunity in the future for Pershing to deliver these types of services to RIA firms. "Many of the RIA firms we deal with would like to focus more of their energy on acquiring new clients and growing their bottom line." said Wichman. "We, as a business partner, would like to support these goals, and SmartSource may be one way that we can help our clients succeed."
    Through its relationship with Bank of New York, Pershing is able to provide directed trust services. Pershing currently offers ProCash Plus, a comprehensive asset management account which combines all brokerage, checking writing, money market accounts and a debit card on one consolidated statement. An optional bill-payment and presentation service is also available. During one of the sessions, a Pershing spokesperson announced that credit cards were "coming soon."