The biggest independent broker/dealer is growing rapidly in another way: as a custodian for advisors that use LPL Financial as the custodian for their RIA activities. On January 25, LPL announced that its Hybrid RIA platform’s AUM had grown from $1.3 billion at year-end 2008 to $7.3 billion as of year-end 2009. Also on that day, LPL announced that Derek Bruton, executive VP and national sales manager for LPL’s Independent Advisor Services unit, is now running the hybrid RIA platform, replacing Gary Gallagher, who has assumed a newly created position as executive VP of product and platform development.

In an interview during in late January, Bruton said there were now 92 firms on the RIA platform with an average of $80 million in AUM. Bruton said LPL “took advantage of certain opportunities in 2009,” attracting wirehouse and large independent advisors who had substantial fee and commission-based business.

To help in the transition, LPL seeks to “shorten the ramp time; to put them into a position to start growing their business” right away, in Bruton’s words. Ruth Papazian, executive VP and chief marketing officer for LPL’s Independent Advisor Services (IAS) unit, said in the same interview that even “before they leave the wirehouse, we create everything for them,” including company logo, Web site, and “day one client letters” to ease the transition. Papazian further notes that LPL now has 200 of its representatives participating in an internal program who agree to talk to other advisors who are considering joining LPL in a peer-to-peer mentoring approach.