Northern Trust has launched a machine learning-based document capture capability as the foundation of a multi-year investment to digitise alternative asset servicing.

The move is aimed at improving the experience of the company’s asset owner clients who invest in the complex private market and unlisted assets.

Digital document capture will enable Northern Trust to streamline historically manual workflows by automating the receipt and processing of alternative asset documents.

It will also automate fund manager reports on holdings and performance of private equity, hedge funds, and other alternative assets.

According to Northern Trust corporate and institutional services president Pete Cherecwich, the initiative is only the start of the firm’s larger plan to enhance alternative asset servicing.

Cherecwich commented: “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.”

Northern Trust managed over $1.6trn in alternative assets under custody and administration at the end of last year.

The firm is said to processes more than 1.5m alternative asset documents every year.

Digital document capture brings together robotic process automation and cloud-based technology to offer transparency and data standardisation.

This solution utilises custom-built robotic process automation that allows self-service operations to collect documents from emails, whether in the form of download link or within the email text.

These documents will be stored on a cloud-based drive where intelligent tools extract identifying details such as the type of document and the name of the fund company, tasks previously performed manually.

These tasks were historically carried out manually.

In May this year, Northern Trust concluded its acquisition of Parilux Investment Technology.

The acquisition followed the asset manager’s investment in the Parilux and its technology since 2018.