Northern Trust launches alternative asset servicing digitisation initiative

Northern Trust has launched a machine learning-powered document capture capability as the foundation of a multi-year investment to digitise alternative asset servicing and enhance the experience for asset owner clients that invest in complex private market and unlisted assets. 

Digital document capture enables Northern Trust to streamline historically manual workflows by automating the receipt and processing of alternative asset documents and fund manager reports on holdings and performance of hedge funds, private equity and other alternative assets. Northern Trust’s proprietary solution combines robotic process automation and cloud-based technology to provide transparency and data standardization that enables greater understanding of portfolio risk and performance.  

“As alternative asset classes continue to grow in importance to institutional investors, Northern Trust is committed to driving efficiency and reducing operational risk through the use of emerging technologies,” says Pete Cherecwich, President of Corporate & Institutional Services at Northern Trust. “Digital document capture is a huge step forward, and only the start of our larger plan to enhance alternative asset servicing for the benefit of our clients.” 

Northern Trust has more than USD1.6 trillion in alternative assets under custody and administration (as of December 31, 2020) and processes more than 1.5 million alternative asset documents each year. The intelligent document capture solution deploys custom-built robotic process automation that enables self-service operations to collect documents from emails, whether in the form of download link or within the email text. Documents are stored on a cloud-based drive where intelligent tools extract identifying details such as the type of document (eg, statements, capital call notices, and distribution notices) and the name of the fund company, tasks previously performed manually.  

Automated document capture enables Northern Trust’s alternative asset servicing teams to focus on more strategic aspects of the process and reduces the need for manual intervention when coordinating saving, storage and categorisation. Since alternative assets are often valued on only a monthly or quarterly basis, asset owners can also benefit from faster servicing of their assets and deeper data insight provided through artificial intelligence.  

The proprietary document capture tool is the first in a series of releases supporting Northern Trust’s strategy to harness emerging technologies to digitise alternative asset servicing, a growing sector of its asset servicing business.