When Bob Dineen joined Lincoln Financial Network six years ago, the organization was losing huge money — up to $70 million a year. Not only was it unprofitable, the firm was so decentralized it had no corporate identity. As one veteran executive puts it: “Everybody was doing their own thing.” The only thing that was consistent was the name: Lincoln.
Dineen, a longtime senior executive with Merrill Lynch, has restored Lincoln’s luster through a restructuring process that has touched every piece of the organization. Notably, only one executive from the executive team Dineen inherited is still standing. The once decentralized advisory offices have been reconfigured into a national footprint supported by three resource and training centers. As part of the makeover, Lincoln Financial Network has also built a full-time recruiting operation, adding several thousand advisors to the group.
“When I did my due diligence I felt two things: I could get it back in shape to be financially profitable as well as grow. The key piece is creating the consistency of delivery,” says Dineen, 59. “Anybody can restructure. But if you can’t deliver a high-level consistent process and highly capable resources beyond software, you’re not going to be able to grow successfully and attract and retain the advisors we’ve attracted in the last four-plus years.”
Robert W. Dineen
CEO, LINCOLN FINANCIAL ADVISORS CORP. & LINCOLN FINANCIAL SECURITIES CORP., PHILADELPHIA, PA.
HIS VIEW FROM THE TOP: “You have to understand client profitability and advisor profitability as well as product profitability to run a company successfully and to do what’s right and fair. Everything has to be in balance.”
Today, Lincoln Financial Network has 7,300 independent agents, career agents and full-service financial planners — a network made more robust as a result of its merger with Jefferson Pilot three and a half years ago. Lincoln is perhaps best known for its fee-based financial planning model, Sagemark Consulting.
Coincidentally, Dineen’s first industry job in 1980 was with Connecticut General Brokerage, whose successor firm was purchased by Lincoln in the late 1990s. Before that, he worked five years as a U.S. Secret Service agent, working protection detail and in undercover counterfeiting. For a period, Dineen was assigned to Dr. Henry Kissinger, which in a convoluted way resulted in his jump to financial services.