LPL Names David Akellian of Century Securities to Head Custom Clearing Unit

Veteran clearing and broker-dealer executive will execute against LPL's strategy to grow its clearing and custody business among insurance, bank and other BDs.

LPL Financial (LPLA) announced June 2 that it has named David Akellian to head its Custom Clearing Services (CCS) business, effective immediately. Akellian, who will report to Jon Eaton, managing director at LPL, and will be based in San Diego, is a high-profile industry veteran who was most recently chairman and CEO of Century Securities Associates, the Stifel Nicolaus (SF) IBD subsidiary. He previously ran global clearing and execution services for Merrill Lynch, and prior to that position, he was COO and head of investment manager services for Pershing when it was part of Donaldson, Lukin & Jenrette.

Eaton said that in hiring Akellian, LPL was looking to bring to CCS someone with a “demonstrated track record of growing and expanding businesses,” particularly in the clearing and BD space, and with Akellian, “that’s where he’s focused on his whole career.” Akellian, he said, would execute against LPL's growth strategy in the clearing space. (LPL has been active lately in adding talent to its executive ranks; see May 23 article on David Reich joining its retirement plan group.)

Eaton (left) said LPL is “deeply committed to the custody and clearing space; we see great potential; and we think we have a unique value proposition.” Part of that uniqueness, he argued, is that “our roots are as a broker-dealer that’s gotten into the custody and clearing businesses, unlike some of our competitors. We think like a broker-dealer, not a generic clearing firm.” Eaton says that message resonates with clearing clients and prospects, as does LPL’s ability to provide a “cost-effective, scalable solution to effectively mitigate regulatory risk.” What LPL can do, he says, is “reduce costs and increase productivity and efficiency, leveraging our technology platform which is the same platform that supports our 12,000 LPL Financial registered representatives.”

The Custom Clearing Services business currently offers brokerage, custody and clearing services to some 4,000 advisors through multiple clients, including seven insurance companies. While Eaton says CCS’ “customer  profile has been insurance broker-dealers, we see opportunity” in mid- to large-sized banks and regional BDs, along with the insurance broker-dealers.

Returning to the theme of “mitigating regulatory risk,” Eaton said LPL believes that the cost of complying with regulation “will be going up with the proposed regulatory changes” under Dodd-Frank and other regualtory and legislative initiatives, increasing “the complexity and the cost to run a compliant broker-dealer.”

When asked about the recent spate of broker-dealers who have gone out of business, or seen their businesses deeply wounded, by being non-compliant, Eaton said that “It’s unfortunate to see any firm go out of business, but that’s an example of the cost and complexities of the current environment.”

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