Going Mobile: LPL Announces Sweeping Tech Changes

New tech guru poised to give largest independent broker-dealer a technological edge

No broker-dealer conference is complete without its “big” announcement; that came early for more than 3,000 LPL advisors gathered in San Diego Monday morning for the start of a three-day conference with the announcement of sweeping technological changes designed to ease electronic communications.

Victor FetterThe firm’s annual gathering was the first for chief technology officer Victor Fetter (left), eight months on the job, and Fetter’s biography was part of the hoopla in the announcement buildup by LPL’s leadership. That is because Fetter assumed the CTO job after leaving Dell, with a view toward bringing a higher level of sophistication to the financial services industry, which is not known as a tech innovator.

The financial services outsider told the gathering that he spent his relatively short time in office visiting more than 50 offices finding out what advisors thought might make their lives easier and announced a variety of changes to make communications more visually dynamic, simpler and perhaps above all, more mobile.

“We’ve made over 300 changes in core platform,” Fetter told LPL advisors, and promised another 300 changes were already in motion. These tech fixes, suggested by advisors, cover the gamut from an improved CRM to enhanced reporting—items as mundane as changing a client’s residence online for trading authority.

But beyond the small fixes, Fetter announced a suite of broad changes and brought along six members of his team to demonstrate them, referring to them mostly by first name in the informal chat.

“What is your dream for technology at LPL? A paperless office? Integrated workflow?" Fetter asked. "Would you like to have a complete picture of your client’s financial life?”

The Charlotte-based tech exec painted a picture of advisors handling the gamut of professional needs from their mobile at their lake house, and introduced team members to provide details.

Fitz unveiled a mobile application that allows advisors to review client accounts with a simple graphical and dynamic view of holdings.

Crystal’s efforts were directed at reducing the cycle time between the advisor and home office, particularly in facilitating e- signatures. The tech team member said that 80% of documents are now eligible for e-signature and to date, more than 70,000 documents have been signed that way, furthering the firm’s paperless goals.

Larry displayed his work on the firm’s enhanced imaging system, which makes it easier to upload documents and make deposits. The firm sees some $15 million in customer deposits daily, which no longer need the long haul to the bank but can be entered, photographed and deposited via mobile device.

Christopher exhibited his work on the firm’s new trading system: Until now, if an advisor wanted to sell a stock and redeploy it to two different securities for 100 clients, the process would have taken days. With a few clicks, it would take just minutes under the new system.

Jason showed how changes to the trading platform would enable automatic purchases if, say, a stock fell in price by a preset percentage.

Finally, Jean showed how a redesigned account view gives a clear picture to clients, one that is “easy on the eyes,” while facilitating the firm's going paperless.

Fetter promised the firm’s tech journey was “just beginning” and assured advisors that the firm was already working to expand mobile content, extend social functionality, improve e-mail and search and overhaul portfolio management and analytics.

“This is just a handful of the things we’re working on to deliver to you," Fetter concluded, bidding advisors to continue to share their ideas with him and his team. "In talking with many of you, we’ve heard your stories about the exciting possibilities."

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