Park Avenue Securities chose Pershing as its business solutions provider so that its advisers could serve their clients more effectively.
In the words of adviser Michele Lee Fine, president and founder of Cornerstone Wealth Advisory, clients want a financial professional who can provide “a great deal of certainty in an uncertain world.” To provide that certainty, advisers need the independence to tailor custom solutions that meet the needs of each client—as well as a broker-dealer who can give them the support to do just that. One independent brokerage firm providing a high level of adviser support is Park Avenue Securities. InvestmentNews recently met with several of the firm’s executives as well as independent reps to discuss the specifics of their broker-dealer relationship and to learn the secrets behind the success of Park Avenue Securities and its advisers.
How does having Park Avenue Securities as your broker-dealer allow you, as an independent adviser, to create value for your clients?
Michele: Park Avenue Securities has a unique approach to advisers who want to be entrepreneurs. I can be independent and, at the same time, offer my clients the best solutions for all their financial and planning issues. And I can still offer the kind of individual attention and service that clients crave.
For example, I recently sat down with a potential client, a successful business owner, who told me that, because he was a wirehouse client, there was probably little or nothing I could do to help him. At the same time, he acknowledged that he received little service from the wirehouse and that it rarely contacted him. When I asked him more about the relationship, it became obvious that the wirehouse considered him a minor client and expended little time or effort understanding and serving his needs. Backed by the support and resources of both Park Avenue Securities and Pershing, I was able to gain him as a client, give him the level of personal attention he deserved and help him meet his financial goals.
How does Park Avenue Securities work with advisers?
John: Our firm provides support to advisers so that they can focus on what they do best—listening to their clients and helping them lead fuller and more secure lives. We provide advisers the access to a range of products and services they need to help clients. We don’t own an investment bank or a capital markets division, so we don’t have proprietary investments. We believe that this lets advisers put their clients at the center of their relationship, and that is best for clients and for advisers.
We also believe in letting advisers create their own business identities. Unlike many other broker dealers, we allow advisers to brand and market themselves, under their own business name. With many of the wirehouses, all advisers use the same basic business card. Your card looks the same whether you have been in the business for 20 days or 20 years, and it does not allow you to express a message and an identity of your own. We believe that advisers should not only express, but celebrate, their individual identities.
How important is it that advisers can choose from a variety of solutions to meet client needs?
Chris: That ability is what provides advisers with a real, meaningful level of autonomy. As an affiliate of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America®, Park Avenue Securities believes in the importance of protection. But we also believe strongly that advisers should choose the products and services that best fit their clients’ needs. That is the most important advantage of the independent adviser—to be unrestrained in the products and services to bring to clients.
Explain the relationship between Park Avenue Securities and Guardian.
Michael: Park Avenue Securities is a critical part of Guardian’s business, and it helps us attract superior talent. We believe that the combination of superior wealth management and protection products provides a robust menu of options to advisers who really care about serving clients’ needs for financial security.
What is unique about this combination of wealth management and protection products?
Michael: Our target clients are in their late 30s to early 40s, and we want and expect to build a 30- to 40-year relationship with them. Throughout that relationship, clients’ needs will change. We believe that to serve clients over decades requires a range and a selection of protection and wealth management products that can meet the needs of people throughout all the stages of their lives.
Does Park Avenue Securities have a unique advantage simply because it was formed by and remains affiliated with an insurance company?
Chris: Guardian has been around for 150 years and, over that time, it has repeatedly demonstrated its stability and strength. As a mutual insurance company, Guardian is defined by its commitment to stand by policyholders over the long term. Just as we have been honoring our commitments to policyholders for the past 150 years, we will continue to do so for the next 150 years and beyond. Park Avenue Securities shares that belief in the importance of being there for clients for the long haul.
For the last few years, Park Avenue Securities has worked with Pershing, a BNY Mellon company. What has that relationship meant to Park Avenue Securities?
Marianne: Just as we stand behind our advisers and support them, Pershing stands behind us and supports us. Our relationship with Pershing allows us to offer an open-architecture platform with a wide array of wealth management products and services that allows advisers to meet the needs of their clients at any point in their lives. Pershing helps Park Avenue Securities to stand out in a crowded marketplace. All of the capabilities of Pershing and BNY Mellon are available to our advisers. And that, in turn, allows our advisers to put their focus and their efforts on the needs of their clients. As a result, we are able to attract the best advisers from every channel—from wirehouses to small, independent firms.
How does the relationship with Pershing affect the individual advisory firms that work with Park Avenue Securities?
Lloyd: I interviewed with 13 different firms before deciding to go with Park Avenue Securities. My original decision was based on my conviction that Park Avenue Securities could give me all the tools and support I needed to serve my clients and to build a successful business.
The relationship with Pershing has only affirmed my belief in Park Avenue Securities. It has turned out to be an excellent decision, not just for Park Avenue Securities, but also for the advisers who work with them. Now we have a world-class broker-dealer that has a best-in-class business solutions firm backing them up. In addition to giving us many ways to serve clients, it also lets us recruit the best talent to grow our firm.
What kind of an edge can Park Avenue Securities and Pershing give an adviser?
Michele: I have a much greater level of confidence that I can compete with any of the largest firms on Wall Street. I can do personalized, comprehensive planning and still have access to virtually any kind of wealth management product. With Park Avenue Securities and Pershing behind me, I really feel like we are only scratching the surface of what’s possible.
One of the things I appreciate most about Park Avenue Securities is that it and Guardian have a very long history of standing with the people they serve. Pershing also shares this commitment, not just to being there, but to being innovative and responsive to its clients and its advisers. That permits me to be innovative and responsive to my clients. And it’s what allows me to provide my clients with a great deal of security in an uncertain world.
THE POWER OF PERSHING
Park Avenue Securities has transformed into a true wealth management firm. Noha Nakhla, Director of Relationship Management at Pershing, talks with InvestmentNews about how Pershing helped Park Avenue Securities with its transformation so that it could better compete and succeed in the marketplace today.
How did Pershing help Park Avenue Securities with the transition and also help position the firm for future growth?
Noha: Changing custodians is not an insignificant decision, as it can disrupt both the firm and its advisers. Park Avenue Securities made the decision to switch and work with Pershing because it realized we could help the firm transform its business and grow in step with increasing investor demands. As one of the largest custodians in the marketplace, Pershing has tremendous experience and takes a highly consultative approach to change management. Our teams are invested in ensuring a smooth transition for firms, their advisers and their advisers’ clients.
Long-term sustainable results in the form of increased efficiencies and profitability are goals we see often realized in the transition process. This business is clearly a scale business and many of our clients tell us they no longer wish to focus on activities that are not differentiating to their core businesses. By allowing our clients to sharpen their focus on what they do best, we are increasing the likelihood they will succeed and outperform their business objectives, and sustain a continuously evolving regulatory environment.
It is absolutely critical that our clients have the tools, services, and solutions necessary to compete and create responsible growth for their organizations and their stakeholders alike. Pershing can help in a number of ways, ranging from technical infrastructure to wealth management solutions such as our integrated advisory platform services. Most notably, however, our team works very hard to put these capabilities into a digestible and ready-to-implement rollout plan that suits our clients’ needs.
Park Avenue Securities has a very ambitious plan to expand by adding advisers. Is this growth achievable and, if so, how can Pershing help a firm help its advisers?
Noha: Yes, the plan is ambitious. But it definitely can accomplish it. First, it has an exceptional culture that will really resonate in the marketplace. Then, by working with Pershing, we have supplied a full suite of wealth management solutions that its advisers can use. Because of the underlying culture, and because of the opportunities that Pershing can provide, Park Avenue Securities can compete with any of the wirehouses as it works to attract new advisers and meet its growth goals.
Selecting the right firm is extremely important for advisers. When advisers review broker-dealer affiliations there are a whole cadre of services they seek, such as adviser platform technology and, increasingly, investor technology is becoming an important point of access for their investors. Pershing provides award-winning platforms on both fronts, which many advisers have an existing familiarity with.
This is a sponsored special feature, developed by the InvestmentNews Content Strategy Studio, and supported by Pershing LLC, a BNY Mellon company.
©2016 Pershing LLC, member FINRA, NYSE, SIPC. The Power of Pershing is a registered trademark. Trademarks belong to their respective owners. For professional use only.
Park Avenue Securities LLC (PAS) is an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian). PAS is a registered broker-dealer offering competitive investment products, as well as a registered investment advisor offering financial planning and investment advisory services. PAS is a member of FINRA and SIPC. Pershing is not an affiliate or subsidiary of PAS or Guardian.