Shortly after Scott Romine was tapped as the chief executive officer of National Planning Corp. in May, he conducted a much anticipated conference call with the independent broker-dealer’s 1,250 advisors.
Among their top queries: What does this mean going forward — a whole new vision? Will you turn things upside down? Were you brought in because things weren’t working right?
Romine, 42, didn’t dodge the bullet.
Then, as now, he says: “I’m the first to acknowledge that change is uncomfortable. It brings with it a sense of the unknown. I just want everyone to know this change should be celebrated. I’m not here to shake things up but, rather, to continue building on the firm’s vision with passion and enthusiasm. There’s a ton of opportunity right now.”
Scott Romine, CEO, National Planning Corp.Headquarters: Santa Monica, Calif.Sound Bite: “In the positions [Jackson National Life executives] have approached me about [heading], I always ask if they’re telling me or asking me. It’s our running joke.”
Romine, a 10-year veteran of Jackson National Life — which owns NPC — succeeds M. Shawn Dreffein, who retired unexpectedly three months ago to focus on politics. Dreffein, 51, had pretty much built NPC, known for its commitment to technology. The firm has been web-based since it was founded in 1998.
“I’m bringing a fresh set of eyes and a new perspective. We’ve never been complacent,” says Romine. “Part of the culture, part of our success, is that we don’t become complacent. We’re always looking for ways to improve.”
The firm’s “relative newness” to the broker-dealer arena has given it an advantage from a technological standpoint, according to Romine. As he puts it, “We weren’t saddled with some old mainframe that our parent company said: ‘Patch it and make it work.’ All our technology is web-based, so we can make changes quickly and fluidly.”
As an example, NPC rolled out significant enhancements to its electronic order-entry system earlier this year, and more are coming. Romine reports the firm is on its way to becoming “absolutely” paperless.
Romine, a Southern Californian, comes to financial services honestly; he’s been an insider since he was a kid. A grandfather started a broker-dealer in Beverly Hills in the 1950s. His father had an insurance company. Romine himself had a property and casualty insurance license at age 18. In fact, he worked full-time at the family insurance firm while he attended California Lutheran University. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Cal Lutheran and an MBA from Pepperdine University.