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Rating:Seen & Heard: INSITE 2014 Not Rated 0.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Monday, June 09, 2014

Seen & Heard: INSITE 2014

Reported by Tommy Fernandez

It was like a brightly-colored, engrossing video game, only for financial advisors.

Over 2,300 fundsters, financial advisors and other industry folk gathered to hob nob and talk about the future of the industry at the Pershing INSITE 2014 conference, held at the Westin Diplomat in Fort Lauderdale.

The hotel was swank, glittering, filled with palm trees, marble,..and devices. There were was a whole network of pools towards the back of the hotel, and the beach. As in. Right. Next. Door. Sailboats and cruise ships and people in swimsuits. Lots of them.

Indoors, attendees were treated to a cornucopia of high tech stimuli. (This is a conference which emailed you ahead of time copies of your name tag so you can check and edit the typos!).

Much of the action took place on two floors in the conference hall of the Westin, festooned with brightly-colored booths from roughly 160 sponsors as well as Pershing itself.

One could look upon this conference as a grand introduction to Pershing 2.0, a reboot of the independent custodian into a super-tech-savvy service provider to advisors with lots of online finesse.

Pershing uploaded a number of upgrades to its platform, NetX360, including a seriously-souped up managed investments platform; an alternative investments center (to complement the existing mutual fund center on the platform, and the new Albridge Wealth Reporting platform.

In case you don't know, Albridge is a customized data aggregating and reporting service that provides a number of useful gizmos for those who do business with Pershing. For example, the wealth reporting platform makes it possible for advisors to show their clients all of their important data via tablets.

Why does this matter? The more convenient the platform, the more advisors who use it, and the bigger the potential market for fund sponsors on the platform.

And make no mistake, Pershing's managing director Sandra Bolton is ready to rumble in the mutual fund space.

She and her colleagues unveiled the FundVest 200 list of funds that passed muster with analysts at Lockwood Advisors and the BNY Mellon Manager Research Group.

The list actually features 211 funds sponsored by 60 fund families. Each fund gets an eight-page paper explaining why the fund is worth noting.

There are a couple of reasons why this list matters.

First, it's highly, highly institutional in approach. The FundVest analysts first look at things like the makeup of the firm, their investment process, the consistency of the firm's approach, and then at the very end, they consider performance.

Second, the list is driven solely by the analysts. Don't bug Bolton or any of her colleagues at Pershing about the list. They have no say in the process and they don't want to hear about it. In fact, the process is so low-key that all of the recipients were surprised to learn of their selection, via late night calls the Thursday before the conference. Recipients were then surprised again by little adorable shiny metal and plastic plaques emblazoned with the words FundVest 200. One exhibitor told MFWire that "I had no idea what these plaques were for. I thought everybody got them!"

Third, as time goes by Pershing will develop portfolios that automatically pull from this list. This will ultimately have a big impact on the flows for firms on this list.

Finally, the list only considers funds featured on Pershing's non-transaction-fee platform. Period.

Meanwhile, the event's organizers did their utmost to give attendees as much IQ-candy as they could handle.

Featured speakers included former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; baseball legend Joe Torre; noted academic and author Jonah Berger; futurist Peter Diamandis, and world-renowned neuroscientist Baroness Susan Greenfield, who spoke on the impact of the Internet, gaming and social media on the development of the brain.

The future was beyond televised, it was Tweeted gloriously and celebrated ferociously on the Internet.

For example, the website noted that on Friday, 96 gallons of coffee were consumed. BUZZ.

Organizers noted that the event has grown beyond the capacity of the genial, urbane Westin Diplomat. Next year, the event will be held on June 3 through 5th, 2015 at the Hyatt Regency Orlando.

This is your brain on Pershing. 

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