LPL Branding Plan: A Work in Progress

The independent broker-dealer ends its CNBC campaign this week and isn't ready to elaborate on future plans

Ads for LPL Financial (LPLA) have been appearing above the ticker tape on CNBC about 10 times a day for the past month or so. That’s prompted some industry experts to ask: What’s the thinking behind the new ad strategy of the independent broker-dealer, since the firm traditionally has stayed behind the curtain and let its advisors brand their own practices?

“One interesting point to watch is LPL’s desire (or lack thereof) to build a consumer brand,” said Chip Roame, managing partner of Tiburon Strategic Advisors, in an interview with AdvisorOne. “Are they only trying to reach financial advisors who watch CNBC, or are they trying to also boost their credibility in consumers’ eyes as the brand behind their financial advisors’ brands?”

When asked if the LPL ads on CNBC were aimed more at attracting new advisors or about strengthening their relationship with existing clients, Chief Marketing Officer Joan Khoury (left) responded dismissively, “That is a marketing question.”

“Talking about where the brand is going is a much longer question” to answer, she continued, noting that she would discuss this topic in greater detail next week with AdvisorOne, but refused to elaborate on any details of future ad campaigns.

In late February, LPL tapped Bernstein-Rein as its new marketing agency. The Kansas City, Mo.-based firm has done work for Family Dollar, Hostess, Lee Jeans, McDonald’s, MetLife, Petsmart, Wal-Mart and USAA.

The ad agency, which Roame says is a “surprising pick,” did not work on the CNBC campaign. These ads—set to end this week—were done by LPL with the aim of raising “the general awareness of our advisors and investors,” said Khoury. “It is about the awareness of LPL [in the marketplace] and our commitment to our advisors.”

With its new relationship with Bernstein-Rein, Khoury says, LPL plans “to think through its brand positioning and if we should approach our marketing in a different way. That work is months off.”

The CNBC ads could be a good first step, says Roame: “LPL has long kept its brand in the background, while other financial services firms use channels like CNBC or publications like Barron’s to reach primarily financial advisors.”

The CNBC ads should help the IBD reach “a broader set of brokers, specifically wirehouse brokers who pride themselves on following the markets,” the consultant said.

Khoury joined LPL Financial about a year ago and knows the wirehouse world. She has previously worked for Merrill Lynch (BAC) and Wachovia's Evergreen Investments (now part of Wells Fargo Advantage Funds). In addition, she was employed at Bank of New York Mellon, which owns the custodial firm Pershing.

“As LPL evolves more to look like a custodian (a la Schwab, Fidelity and T. D. Ameritrade), some consumer-brand recognition might help,” noted Roame. “One competitor, Raymond James (RJF), has a more well-known consumer brand due to its company-owned offices.”

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