AFTAs 2021: Most cutting-edge IT initiative—Northern Trust


Alternative assets such as private capital or hedge funds are mostly unregulated and no industry standard exists for processing the data that is generated when clients invest in these assets. 

Northern Trust processes millions of unstructured documents yearly from multiple sources and in multiple formats, whether they are in web-based portals, faxes or emails. With the continued growth of alternative investing, this entails time-consuming manual input with little operational efficiency. With higher volume, timeliness and accuracy also become a challenge.






NT Digitizer is a machine-learning framework and workflow tool that extracts unstructured alternative investment data from multiple sources and integrates it into existing workstreams. It can be configured for multiple asset types and systems.

Using Microsoft Azure cognitive services, the tool extracts processing data from unstructured documents. It then transforms crucial information such as capital call notices, cash and stock distribution notices, and capital account statements from a variety of unstructured formats into a digitized format for operations teams. This allows Northern Trust to provide an end-to-end, scalable, cloud-based process capable of moving from document receipt notification to digitized, accounting-ready data in minutes.

Features include supervised learning with manually labeled data for complicated documents, customizable data extraction, and mandatory/optional data specification. 

“The NT Digitizer enables the integration of unstructured data for alternative assets, which fills a crucial missing piece for asset owners who have long sought an accurate view of performance, liquidity and risk analytics across multi-asset portfolios. Automating investment data is a focus for Northern Trust, particularly for alternative assets due to their complexity and growing investor demand. Our investments in cloud technology, artificial intelligence, blockchain and machine learning will help asset owners achieve a true understanding of their assets and portfolios as a whole and for that reason, this initiative is truly cutting-edge.”
Pete Cherecwich, president of Corporate and Institutional Services, Northern Trust


NT Digitizer will expand to support additional alternative documents and data points to support functions beyond back-office processing.

Northern Trust plans to extend its use beyond alternative asset services to benefit processing functions such as derivatives or cash operations.

The platform will be expanded to facilitate analytics for better client insights and provide a 360-degree view of client portfolios.






NT Digitizer is an enterprise platform that applies robust, up-to-date tech—it’s built on Azure Cognitive Services with Rest APIs and client library software development kits—to a perennial challenge experienced by Northern Trust’s clients. Automating document digitization will save customers in alternatives time, money and effort, and will relieve them of tedious tasks. 





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