Investments in technology to empower reps at their desks, or virtually anywhere, is a common theme that ties into all aspects of the independent broker/dealer industry, from client relationship management to clearing to statements to compliance. Technology has in some cases leveled the playing field, giving equal footing to small, nimble firms, and large B/Ds that have scale. Technology integration of all services to a hosted environment on the Web is something Commonwealth Financial is working on, says CEO, Joe Deitch, so that a rep can work from anywhere she has access to the Web. This would give reps connectivity in normal times as well as add a layer of risk management–the ability to change their physical location if necessary at the drop of a hat–something that’s top of mind this year after natural disasters displaced so many people.
LPL’s Mark Casady takes a slightly different tack: LPL self-clears, says the B/D’s president, making advisors more efficient and enabling LPL to lower ticket charges. He says the firm has invested significantly in technology service center personnel, and a research department to provide functions that advisors can outsource to LPL–rent-a-capability–so if you need technical assistance, you call LPL’s techs, and reps don’t have to have their own technology personnel unless they choose to.