EXCLUSIVE: BNY Mellon's Pershing Aims For EMEA Winning Formula

Tom Burroughes Group Editor 5 June 2023


Last year Pershing, part of BNY Mellon, appointed a CEO for its Europe, Middle East and Africa business – a person with experience at institutions such as the London Stock Exchange Group, large consultancies, and clearing houses. Her firm is a big part of the support that wealth managers require. Here is an in-depth interview.

BNY Mellon’s new CEO for its Pershing business, Cécile Nagel, is a person well-used to organisations that have to embrace rapid change and work with those whose business models are getting disrupted. WealthBriefing caught up with Nagel at the firm’s offices in the City to ask her about her vision for the business. The EMEA role that Nagel has covers the UK, the Channel Islands and Europe (from the Irish office). 

Nagel joined the firm in 2022 and was previously CEO of EuroCCP. (From the Pershing website: Under her leadership, EuroCCP consolidated its position as a leading pan-European cash equities central counterparty, providing clearing services to 47 trading venues across Europe. In addition, she led the launch of the equity derivatives clearing service and oversaw EuroCCP’s acquisition by Cboe Global Markets in July 2020.) Before this, Nagel was with the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) where she held several senior positions across the organisation including head of LSE Markets Global Product Development and Exchange Traded Products, group head of Strategic Planning and global head of Equities and Commodities at LCH, LSEG’s multi-asset clearing house. She has also worked at Oliver Wyman and the Financial Services Authority (now the Financial Conduct Authority). 

WealthBriefing: Whom do you look to (other firms, individuals, authors, public figures etc) for inspiration and ideas? 
Nagel: I grew up in Alsace, in Northeast France, in a small village near where Arsène Wenger grew up. While our industries are very different, I see a lot of his journey in my own. He had to work hard to get to the top; his talent and success are something I admire a lot. 

Much of what he achieved in his career has a bearing on the role I hope to play at Pershing, from overseeing pioneering change in the wealth management industry (his use of data and analytics in football was a real step-change for the game), to building successful teams and effectively leading across different countries and cultures. I fear this won’t make me popular with Pershing’s Liverpool-based Operations team…! 

Your background in areas such as the stock exchange,the clearing house world and Oliver Wyman gives you a variety of experience (and of course you’ve also worked with the UK regulator). What benefits does this experience give you in your role?
I’m fortunate to have worked across a number of industries within the broader financial services sector; the element that ties all of these roles together, and which I believe is integral to my role at Pershing, is a deep understanding of market infrastructure in the UK and across Europe. 

In my previous roles, I’ve also led strategic initiatives and worked through some of the most defining periods in the history of global financial services. Technology change, regulatory change, consolidation and M&A have all had a profound influence on the industry’s transition to its current form; for wealth management in particular, they are now at their most apparent and impactful. 

Being able to respond to change, and capturing opportunities that emerge, is critical to our success. There are a lot of opportunities to grow Pershing in EMEA and I’m excited to be leading the business on this journey.

What in broad terms do you see as the opportunity in front of Pershing in the EMEA region, and are there particular jurisdictions you want to discuss and why? 
Pershing has a longstanding heritage and is trusted as a business partner for institutions in the EMEA region, with established bases in the UK, Channel Islands, and Ireland acting as our gateway to supporting mainland European businesses. Through this longstanding experience, coupled with the diverse range of clients we serve, we have gained an extensive understanding of the challenges faced by the wealth management industry. Despite the tremendous growth opportunities in this sector, wealth managers are still struggling to grow profitably and sustainably. We believe that there are three key drivers to support them:

i.    Bring simplification to an increasingly complex environment; 

ii.    Help to build scale so they can grow their revenues faster than their cost base. According to a Compeer report, over the past five years only 37 per cent of UK wealth managers have been able to grow their revenues at a faster rate than costs. Outsourcing to firms like Pershing offers an obvious way to scale without having to worry about technology resiliency, risk management, or regulatory burden; and 

iii.    Last, but certainly not least, provide them with innovative solutions so they can focus on their clients and differentiate on service. 

Simplification, scale and service are the cornerstone of our strategy to support our clients, underpinned by strong core capabilities and resilience.  

We have seen a lot of volatility in financial markets and attendant woes of certain banks. How has this affected what clients are looking for from a firm such as Pershing when it comes to custody and other services?
When market volatility surges, clients want to know that the companies looking after their clients’ assets are strong and resilient. The resilience and stability of our platform – backed by the credibility and strength of BNY Mellon (the world’s largest custodian with over $44 trillion of assets under custody/administration) – presents a differentiated value proposition. Recognised as a Global Systemically Important Bank, we are subject to stringent capital and liquidity rules and stress tests that complement our rigorous approach to risk management. This provides reassurance to clients during volatile periods and means that clients in the UK and across Europe look to Pershing with confidence, trusting in our ability to look after their assets.

Within the range of services that Pershing offers to wealth managers (tech, investment and platform solutions, clearing, trading) where do you see the most growth potential? What areas do you think require more development and investment? 
The wealth management industry is growing rapidly supported by strong underlying dynamics and changes to the pension and investing landscape, and it comes with a greater demand for advice from individuals. Financial literacy remains far too low. 
We pride ourselves on being able to offer fully-integrated trading through to custody services as well as a range of investor services and investment solutions. As a result, the whole range of Pershing’s services has potential for firms that want an infrastructure that can power their growth. We also continue to develop our offering to bring further efficiency and scale to wealth managers and solve pain points such as investor onboarding or smoother transfer of assets using digital tools. We recently expanded our product range with further enhancement to our SIPP. 

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