The buzz has begun in advance of Focus13, the giant conference for gigantic independent broker-dealer LPL Financial, which will bring hundreds of advisors together for three days of technology launches, continuing education sessions, compliance workshops and networking opportunities between advisors and home-office partners.
To be held Aug. 18 to 21 in LPL’s headquarters city of San Diego, Focus13 will feature keynote speakers Gen. Colin Powell and The Economist economic editor Zanny Minton Beddoes in addition to home-office speakers Chairman and CEO Mark Casady, president of Advisor and Institution Solutions Robert Moore, Chief Investment Officer Burt White and more.
LPL’s heavy focus on technology will be a big theme of this year’s conference. The independent broker-dealer already has established itself in the Twittersphere (with 2,794 followers as of Wednesday, many of them including the 17,000 financial professionals associated with the firm), and LPL is using that online presence to talk up its tech launches ahead of the conference.
The firm’s Twitter feed, @LPLFinancial, is currently promoting a new client portal with new mobile apps to be unveiled at Focus13 along with a new Account View tool.
As a further example of LPL’s renewed commitment to investing in its technology platform, 22-year IT industry veteran Victor Fetter (left) joined LPL in December as chief information officer from Dell, where he served as CIO of Dell Online. Now, Fetter is actively tweeting about LPL’s tech developments and launches planned for Focus13.
“<1 week to #LPLFocus. @LPLFinancial team hard at work putting finishing touches to new #products and #platforms,” Fetter said in one typical tweet from his Twitter feed @vpfetter, while reaching out in other tweets to LPL partners planning to attend Focus13.
Fetter also is scheduled to speak at Focus13.
Meanwhile, Bill Hamm, president and CEO of one of LPL’s top RIAs, Independent Financial Partners (IFP), based in Tampa, Fla., said he planned to spend time at Focus13 meeting with LPL executives and with about 20 fellow members of a study group for the hybrid BD/RIA firms partnered with LPL. He also looked forward to meeting with wholesalers and platform providers who serve IFP’s 34 employees and 485 advisors.
As an indication of just how important tech has become in the advisor universe, here are just a few of IFP’s tech-related initiatives this year:
- An IFP Insurance Group launch, which provides a platform to support all independent financial advisors, while expanding in-house professional services to work directly with IFP advisors.
- An RIA dashboard that will serve as a massive database instrumental in compiling registrations and providing a customer relationship management module. Later this fall, the company has plans to develop a sports and entertainment department to help manage finances for athletes.
- IFP is starting to use the advanced payroll and commission system Xtiva for managing payments to its network of advisors. It has also contracted with SunGard for its Protegent system, a compliance technology that identifies potential risk factors while increasing operational efficiency and regulatory transparency.
LPL’s Moore acknowledged back in late January that LPL, the largest IBD in the U.S., was grappling with the consequences of its own success, including a new level of competition from other technology platforms and complexity in everything from alternative investments to regulatory requirements.
“LPL is on a journey. We’ve been the leader in the IBD space, but being the leader in 1995 was a very different experience from what it is now in 2013,” Moore told a crowd of about 200 affiliated advisors at the firm’s alternative investments symposium in New York on Jan. 31.
Read LPL’s Latest Shot in Tech ‘Arms Race’: Naming Ex-IT Exec to Board at ThinkAdvisor.