REP.: You’re rolling out a new $600 million tech platform that took seven years to develop. Is there a perception in the industry that SEI was behind the curve?
Steve Onofrio: Yes. Most of our clients have most of their assets with us but there are clients that operate under mobile custodial environments because we did not incorporate non-SEI assets into our automation. You could say we forced them to go to a second custodian because if they felt like they needed an ETF or an alternative and we didn’t integrate that into our technology, they had to take a step back and use subsystems and manual interface. So we now have gotten rid of all of that and it’s all fully automated for any asset type.
REP.: The system integrates investment and custody platforms. What’s wrong with the system advisors use now?
S.O.: The advisor does the model management, their rebalancing of accounts, and then has a trade file that they export back to the custodian, and it gets traded. Well, there’s time, there’s people costs, there’s software costs because an advisor would have had to buy one of the portfolio management systems. There’s reconciliation services because there’s a lot hat can go on between the time an advisor downloads the transactions, imports them into the portfolio management system, does the tax planning, does the rebalancing, uploads the trade files. Things can happen. Assets are mispriced. Corporate actions happen, So the difference is they save money. They don’t have to buy reconciliation services.
REP.: What’s your next move?
S.O.: In the last 18 months I created a new sales team for the larger market. That team and I have been going around the United States talking to current large SEI clients, former SEI clients, and large advisors that have never used SEI.
REP.: What did you learn in the process?
S.O.: What surprises us is when we talk to the larger advisors and everybody says technology is integrated, and it’s really not. It just isn’t. Integrated and interfacing are two different things. They’re doing a lot of manual importing and exporting. The subsystems themselves are good, they fill the gap for someone who doesn’t have an integrated platform like ours. But somebody had to manually execute it and interface with it.