Pershing Elite Advisor Summit: Bullish on the advisory business

Wednesday, March 14, 2018 | By Timothy Welsh

Pershing Elite Advisor Summit: Bullish on the advisory business

Right from the start, the Pershing Elite Advisor Summit took a bullish tone. “We believe that the RIA business can double in the next 3-5 years,” said Jim Crowley, COO for Pershing.  Over 100 of the industry’s top advisors (average AUM of $4 billion) gathered for two days of industry content, networking and receptions at the elegant Ritz Carlton in Laguna Niguel, California.  SS&C Advent was a prominent sponsor and supporter of the event for the second year in a row.

Crowley announced several of Pershing’s strategic initiatives focused on continuing to help advisors grow, compete and succeed, including a branding strategy, enhancements to the technology platform, and bringing in new talent. For example, over the coming months, Pershing will use digital marketing campaigns to promote the RIA business.  Additionally, Pershing will further build out its technology that advisors use on a daily basis to create an, “Integrated Digital Client Experience,” allocating 44% of its total budget to this important segment of the advisor tech stack, while also hiring more people into client support roles.

“We got into the RIA business about 10 years ago, and now have upwards of $600 billion from RIAs. Our belief is that we are bullish on the advisory business and we are going ‘all in’ to support growth minded firms,” Crowley said as he described the scope and scale of Pershing’s many business lines that collectively represent $1.8 trillion in assets from 7 million accounts for 1,400 institutional clients.

Following Crowley’s upbeat remarks was the perennially popular CEO of Pershing Advisor Solutions, Mark Tibergien. While Tibergien is also optimistic for the future of the RIA business, he shared some cautionary tones to keep advisors focused on better managing their firms in the face of this growth curve coming their way. 

Known throughout the industry as a practice management expert, this year Tibergien spent his podium time describing new methods for advisors to, “Create a Dynamic Career Path.” As an industry made up of a collection of practices, Tibergien focused on the need to institutionalize firms to better attract talent, and diverse talent, to the industry.  “Only 23% of advisors are women and 8% are of color,” he noted, which does not reflect the world around us.  “Many firms hire on experience versus potential, but in an industry that is growing, that is not sustainable over the long run.”

Tibergien’s premise is that the industry suffers from slowing business growth because it is at capacity and serving clients who are now in the decumulation phase. “We see advisors tying up their time with dead and dying clients and not investing in the future.”  Tibergien provided several actionable strategies to help firms create career paths to better attract and retain the best talent.  “A leader’s job is not to motivate people, but rather to create an environment where motivated people flourish,” he said. His advice is to have a strong focus on building a culture of partnerships and multiple owners, which exists in the legal and accounting professions. The ability to have partnerships in a firm creates a defined career path, which is one key strategy Tibergien suggests can make a powerful difference.

As the industry continues to age, there has been an increase in mergers and acquisitions recently, with record transactions happening year over year, many of which are the result of outside investments in the RIA space from private equity investments. Accordingly, Pershing assembled a fascinating panel of bankers, PE firms, advisors and lawyers to highlight how outside investment is accelerating consolidation. Echoing Tibergien’s message, this all-star panel (Dave Welling, CEO of Mercer Advisors, Brian Hamburger, CEO of MarketCounsel, Liz Nesvold, Founder and Managing Partner of Silver Lane Advisors, and Fayez Muhtadie, Principal of Stone Point Capital) reinforced the reasons why firms need capital to be able to invest in infrastructure and people.

According to the panel, firms should look to create opportunities for talent, particularly the next generation of advisor, as they can be part of a larger organization with a bright career path in front of them. “Capital is not the scarce resource in the industry, rather talent is,” Muhtadie eloquently said.

Rounding out the agenda at the Pershing Elite Summit were fascinating keynote speeches from luminaries in other industries and professions. Academic Jonah Berger spoke about his research on social influence and how other people shape our decisions. The CEO of FlyWheel Sports, Sarah Robb O’Hagan regaled the crowd with her stories of working at Gatorade and Nike to build enduring brands.

Pershing found plenty of opportunities throughout the event for advisors to share best practices, including a lunch-hour roundtable hosted by Steve Leivent and Bob Conchiglia of SS&C Advent.  “We had a great roundtable discussion around attracting and retaining advisors with several industry-leading RIA firms,” said Conchiglia.  “I was amazed at how much time and effort RIA firms spend on attracting the best advisors to their firms.”  Firms shared how, as part of their recruiting strategy, they are using their technology platforms to show what life would be like within their firms.  “This is true with many clients who showcase SS&C Advent solutions as a way to attract that next generation of talent. One of the advisors at our table was able to grow their business almost 80% last year using our Black Diamond offering to demonstrate the tools that would be available to them if they joined their firm.” 

To learn more about the Pershing Elite Summit, check out the many tweets on the #EliteAdvisor hashtag on Twitter.

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