At Securities America's national conference in Denver, Jim Nagengast, CEO and president of Securities America, was optimistic about the firm's future and partnership with Ladenburg Thalmann, which acquired the broker-dealer in the fall.
"This is our first national conference with Ladenburg Thalmann as our new partner. There's been an overwhelmingly positive response," Nagengast (left) told AdvisorOne at the conference on Tuesday. "Dick Lampen and Adam [Malamed] are very advisor-centric. With the additional tools that Ladenburg brings to the tool belt, our value proposition has never been stronger."
Malamed, chief operating officer for Ladenburg Thalmann, agreed. "So much of what we do comes from here," he told AdvisorOne, referring to meetings with advisors at conferences. "We're learning what works for them, what doesn't work."
Some of those tools currently include asset management, proprietary research and investment banking, but in the future, the firm expects to add IPOs and secondary offerings.
"We're headed in the right direction," Nagengast said.
Among the new and enhanced tools announced at the conference is an enhanced desktop, Dashboard 2.0, that allows advisors to create customized views for users based on their job duties. The desktop is based on Securties America's customer relationship management (CRM) product, so advisors can consolidate data from all their sources.
"That includes third-party sources," Doreen Griffith (right), executive vice president and chief information officer, told AdvisorOne during a demonstration of the desktop. "We're setting the foundation to allow advisors to use cloud providers."
The desktop features an account servicing tool that makes it more advisor-friendly and office friendly, Roxanne Wieland, director of field technology, added. "Actions are driven by the type of account" the advisor is looking at, she said. This streamlined process "takes the thinking out" because only the relevant options are available.
Another new release from the tech pipeline is Securities America's mobile app, which will make advisors' most frequently used information available "any time, anywhere, any device," Nagengast boasted.
"We were the first to roll out a mobile offering, along with Pershing and National Financial," Nagengast said. "We don't want to rest on our laurels."
The mobile app is currently available on the Android platform and will soon be available in the iTunes App store for the iPhone and iPad, Brian Eaton, product consultant for Securities America, said during a demonstration. The app features articles, news and market commentary, but also allows advisors to access basic CRM data, Eaton said. Currently, advisors can't enter data through the app, but that's a feature Griffith said should be available by "the end the summer."
Securities America also announced at the conference enhancements to its retirement income distribution program, NextPhase. The program offers education, marketing support, training and tech support, Nagengast said. Another feature is the income distribution desk, which helps advisors "design plans so they can focus on marketing or client contact," Nagengast said.
Malamed agreed. "Never before has there been such a need for retirement income advice and will be for the next 19 years," he said.
"There's a steep learning curve" to retirement income distribution, Zach Parker (left), first vice president of income distribution, told AdvisorOne. With the enhancements to NextPhase, advisors can "change the levers" they need to, to help their clients meet their goals.
The challenges the firm faces in the next six months are no different from the challenges everyone else is facing, Nagengast said: economy, markets, politics. But for the firm, he's optimistic. "Everything I can control, I feel good about."
"We recognize the importance of the management team," Malamed said of the benefits to Ladenburg's partnership with Securities America as well as Triad Advisors and Investacorp. "We meet quarterly to leverage our intellectual capital and talk about the industry and collaborate to create a positive experience for advisors."
"Securities America has a history of leadership in the independent broker-dealer space and is a leader for entrepreneurship and innovations. We look to continue that in the next six to 12 months," Nagengast concluded.