I had an opportunity to chat the other day with Victor Fetter, CIO of LPL Financial, the largest organization of independent financial advisors in the United States. Fetter says that virtually all of LPL’s technology initiatives are around driving efficiencies in both advisors’ offices and LPL’s. Progress on ClientWorks, LPL’s next generation advisor facing platform, is progressing nicely. Fetter says that ClientWorks will drive efficiency and help advisors grow in a time of change.
According to Fetter, LPL’s overall technology strategy remains unchanged. He says that ClientWorks is the wrapper that will allow LPL to deliver all of the technology enhancements that they are working on. Some of the new enhancements have not yet been fully integrated into ClientWorks, but they will be. For example, Fetter cited LPL’s new, enhanced money movement tool that allows advisors to process checks, wires, ACH transactions, etc. This tool has already led to a significant reduction in labor, as well as a higher quality experience.
Another enhancement is the new alternative investment order entry tool. According to Fetter, the account opening process that used to take up to a week to process under the old system can now be done in a day.
By the end of 2016, Fetter says that LPL advisors will be doing most of their work in the new ClientWorks system. The benefits will include better workflows, enhanced money movement, an analytics dashboard, enhanced trading capabilities, a consolidated client management hub, and a fully mobile capable interface.
LPL is developing various analytical tools to help advisors grow. For example, they are developing an adoption index to help advisors benchmark their practice to that of top producers. They will provide data that allows advisors to see at a glance what portion of their business is commission business vs. what portion is fee business, so that advisors can better plan future business strategy. Fetter believes that the quality and the quantity of analytical data that LPL can provide to its advisors is a key differentiator that sets LPL apart from their competition.
Unfortunately, Fetter does not believe that advisors will be fully free of BranchNet, LPL’s legacy technology platform by the end of 2016. It may be mid-2017 before all of the functionality that advisors need to run their business is available in ClientWorks, but the need for most advisors to interact with BranchNet on a regular basis should decline significantly well before then.
Fetter had nothing to add to what has previously been released regarding LPL’s new robo-advisor initiative. I’m withholding making any judgements regarding this offering until LPL can supply more details, including of course pricing. Fetter promises that more information will be forthcoming at the annual LPL Conference this summer.
Although the implementation of some technologies is taking longer than some advisors would like, it does appear that the firm is executing on its technology strategy in a deliberate yet successful fashion.
I look forward to hearing more at their upcoming event.