LPL Financial plans to spend more than $1.3 billion this year on investments in key areas including technology and its workforce to support advisor growth and help them compete, the company said Wednesday, the first day of its annual Focus conference, held online for the second-straight year.
The event follows the firm reporting continued organic growth and advisor retention, with a new high of $1.1 trillion in total brokerage and advisory assets, in the second quarter.
“As you know, this has always been a relationship business,” Dan Arnold, LPL CEO and president, told attendees. “But, over the next decade, this is going to increasingly become more of an experience-driven business.”
Therefore, LPL “will be even more intentional about creating a differentiated and compelling experience for you and your clients, whether that’s in person, on the phone or on our digital platforms,” he told advisors.
An “important cornerstone of innovation is the rising expectation to create more personalized solutions in every part of life,” Arnold said. “In that spirit, we want to provide you with more flexibility and relevant options in how you structure your business to give you more control so as your needs change you can evolve your perfect practice and how you serve your clients.”
By offering advisors a variety of choices that “never previously existed under one roof, we want to make it easy for you to pick and choose the options that work best for you and your clients,” he explained.
LPL is “being purposeful in designing solutions not for thousands of advisors but one that is personalized just for you,” he said, noting the company is calling this its “personalization layer, where we are always meeting you where you are in the evolution of your business.”
After all, “now more than ever, personalization is where the marketplace is going,” he said, noting it “expands your ability to express your passion for your business, the relationships you make with your clients and the culture unique to your brand.” In a news release, he said: “Evolving our personalization will be the hallmark of what we do now and throughout the next decade.”
Arnold and Rich Steinmeier, LPL managing director of business development, compared what LPL is looking to offer with personalization to what Starbucks has done with the ability for customers to personalize drinks.
“Twenty years ago, there were two ways to take coffee: Caffeinated and decaffeinated,” Steinmeier said. Then along came flavored creamers and then the many ingredients you can add to coffee at Starbucks, he said, calling it “uber-personalization” that allows it to potentially “make a unique drink for every single person on earth.”
“It’s our belief that the same type of flexibility and personalization is just as important to our advisors and historically the industry has never given advisors a model with exactly what they needed,” Arnold went on to say. “There were always tradeoffs to be made. So the objective of the personalization layer is for advisors to no longer have to compromise because you can have the ongoing flexibility and optionality to match your business now and in the future.”
Other Focus Areas
Over the course of 2021, LPL will also “build capabilities to support your high-net-worth clients, including introducing investment banking referrals, enhanced product and lending capabilities and specialized advice support,” Steinmeier told advisors.
Another area in which LPL is “making material changes is the building of support for multi-custodial practices,” Steinmeier said. “We recognize that personalization also comes in building more flexible workflows to allow you to structure your practice how you’d like it to operate. And so we’re building more flexibility in those workflows to support assets that your custody both with LPL and away from LPL: a multi-custodial solution to help you simplify your operating environment.”
The company wants advisors to tell it where they want more personalization, he added.
The modern consumer, now more than ever, “wants things that are easy to use, that are convenient: things like on-demand, personalized experiences that are on their terms,” according to Burt White, chief investment officer, investments and investor solutions. “It’s what I like to call the three WEs: “Wherever, whenever and whatever they need,” he said.
Another key area of focus for LPL, meanwhile, “continues to be on building out our advisory platforms,” White said.
Of the recently introduced Meeting Manager tool, Ed Fandrey, managing director of Advisor Solutions, said: “We’re getting some early feedback that this tool allows meetings that normally took almost eight hours to prepare for” to only take “as little as one hour” to prep for. It is integrated into LPL’s ClientWorks advisor platform at no additional cost, he noted.