Global Custodian is pleased to announce the shortlist for its third annual Industry Person of the Year for North America award, recognising those who have gone truly above and beyond in their role of the past 12 months.
The nominees include Melanie Pickett, head of front-office solutions at Northern Trust, Roman Regelman, head of digital for BNY Mellon, and Stephanie Miller, CEO of Intertrust Group.
The winner will be decided by the attendees of the Global Custodian Industry Leaders Awards in New York on 7 November in a live vote.
The two previous winners of the award have been Peter Cherecwich, president of corporate & institutional services at Northern Trust in 2017 and Kelly Mathieson, head of enterprise solutions at Digital Asset in 2018.
Roman Regelman, head of digital, BNY Mellon
Digital transformation is by no means a quick project for the world’s largest custodian banks, so to be celebrated for your first year in the role speaks volumes about the impact Roman Regelman has had on BNY Mellon.
Joining in September 2018 from Boston Consulting Group as head of digital, Regelman has set about defining BNY Mellon’s digital strategy, paving the way to developing new data management and data analytics capabilities.
Regelman was hired by Charlie Scharf specifically to build a global team across the bank, developing and attracting new and diversified digital talent.
Roman wasted no time in making a quick impact on BNY Mellon’s business through leading a new recruitment programme, hiring experts across the technological spectrum from artificial intelligence to blockchain and mobile technology. One of his most notable appointments was Serena Ness, a digital transformation expert with a varied background, having worked for hedge fund giant Bridgewater Associates, HBO, and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
He is also overseeing the exploration and launch of new opportunities in the digital and data services space, looking at ways BNY Mellon can enhance both the client and internal employee experience.
One of the bank’s most significant projects in the digital asset space was partnering with digital currency exchange Bakkt to help launch its institutional custody service. Through the collaboration, BNY Mellon would set up private key storage for the crypto custody offering.
“Digitisation is everything for this industry. But digitisation cannot live in isolation,” Regelman said at a London event in March.
“We have only one business—that needs to be both digital, and physical. And clients don’t have a digital experience and physical experience, they have an experience with their providers that span both digital and physical. So, getting digital right is everything, and getting physical right is everything. And that means the financial services industry needs to change its approach.”
Melanie Pickett, head of front-office solutions, Northern Trust
Melanie Pickett was hired in 2017 where she was given a very unique task: to use Northern Trust’s asset servicing platform and create a new front-office solutions business that will offer data aggregation, data enhancement and data analytics services for family offices, pension funds, endowments and outsourced chief investment officers (OCIOs).
To do this, Pickett and her team scoured Northern Trust’s asset owner client base, speaking with over 40 institutions on what they wanted from the offering, as well as collaborating with the bank’s client and partner experience lab.
After two years in the making, Pickett launched the front-office solutions platform in March becoming Northern Trust’s first client-facing public cloud application. A unique feature of the service is that it is custody agnostic, meaning the business can attract asset owners that are clients of BNY Mellon and State Street, as well as Northern Trust.
With six months under her belt, the platform has onboarded two fund of funds, two university endowments, an OCIO, a large family office, and is working to bring on a foundation as well.
The platform is also expanding its range of services to include risk management capabilities, enabling asset owners to review and assess the operational strength of their managers, including those managing alternative strategies such as hedge funds, private equity, real estate and direct investments.
They also include capabilities for limited partnership agreement (LPA) compliance, fund fee analysis, and regulatory monitoring.
“I feel this could be extremely disruptive,” highlighted Pickett in an interview with Global Custodian earlier this year.
“Recently, we’ve faced competition not just from custodians but software providers and other non-banks. The current data model for the back-office does not meet the same needs of the front-office. Custodians have tried to make custody and fund accounting data work for the front-office, but the data model is insufficient especially for alternative investments. Our solution is an interoperable client solution, something custodians have not today offered to asset owners.”
Stephanie Miller, CEO, Intertrust Group
In September 2018, Intertrust Group CEO, Stephanie Miller, outlined an ambitious three-year strategy with a vision for the firm to become a globally renowned tech-enabled corporate and fund solutions provider.
“Disciplined M&A is back on the agenda with the United States and Asia as priority regions,” said Miller at the time. Despite having two years remaining to fulfil this plan, Intertrust has wasted no time checking the M&A and regional growth boxes in a landmark year for the Dutch-headquartered fund administrator.
Under Miller’s guidance, Intertrust announced this summer it would acquire Viteos, a tech-enabled provider of middle and back-office services, in a deal worth $330 million, bolstering its technology capabilities and reputation through the well-received agreement. In February, Intertrust also reached an agreement to purchase ABN AMRO’s escrow and settlement business.
These moves followed a swathe of regional expansions which saw new offices open in Ireland, Paris and China, along with an extension of its services in the US. The Viteos acquisition will also enable Intertrust to leverage the technology provider’s offshore centres of excellence in India.
These plays seem to have resonated with those in the industry, as talent appears to be pouring into Intertrust. During 2019, Miller managed to lure BlackRock’s director of investment accounting operations, Deirdre Hochma, to the team, along with Citi’s Patrick O’Brien who became its global head of funds in May and Ian Lynch, the former global head of alternative fund services at BNP Paribas.
In a space where consolidation is rife, those who plan to survive are focusing on technology enhancements and a wide-range of offerings with extensive global expertise and people on the ground in as many markets as possible.
Miller’s growth aspirations for Intertrust may be seen as ambitious, but they are clear: to be technology-enabled and focused, with acquisitions and expertise additions to achieve scale. The first 12 months of her three-year plan will leave few doubting her ability to reach this goal.