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Industry Spotlight > Broker Dealers

LPL Limits Pay Hikes, Bonuses for Employees

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LPL Financial (LPLA) says it is not giving all of its corporate employees merit-related pay raises this year. However, some of its 3,200 employees will be getting discretionary bonuses in 2016, and all staff members are eligible for annual bonuses.

“Earlier this week, we communicated to employees our decision to provide one-time discretionary bonuses to select employees instead of firmwide merit increases for 2016,” the company said in a statement on Tuesday. “While our business remains strong, we believe continued market volatility and uncertainty warrants a more cautious approach to expense management at this time.”

The broker-dealer — which has corporate offices in Boston; San Diego; and Charlotte, North Carolina — plans to award discretionary bonuses in September and annual bonuses in March 2017.

“Our solid financial results thus far this year give us the comfort to commit to a limited discretionary bonus fund for 2016. Because the bonus is non-recurring, it will not affect our cost structure in 2017,” the firm explained. “This fund will be awarded to select employees based on factors such as performance, length of time since last increase, and assessment of pay based on market competitiveness. Senior vice presidents and above are not eligible for this reward.”

LPL Financial’s annual bonuses are affected by both individual results and companywide performance for the full year.

“Lack of a firm-wide merit increase does not mean there will be no pay adjustments going forward. Managers will continue to have the flexibility to promote employees on their teams in recognition for new job responsibilities as long as they are funded within our current budgets,” it stated.

According to recruiter Mark Elzweig, LPL’s decision seems sound. “Especially in volatile markets, firms like to find ways to reward their top performers without boosting their fixed costs,” he said in an interview.

“It makes more sense for LPL to cherry pick and reward a select group of outstanding employees rather than to pay bonuses across the board. That’s part of the discipline that’s demanded in tough times,” Elweig said.

The broker-dealer is hosting its yearly educational conference starting on Sunday in San Diego.

In the second quarter, LPL’s net income fell 5% year over year to roughly $48 million; revenue dropped about 7% year over year to $1.02 billion.

The firm had a nearly 5% decline in net income from the first quarter, in which it reported profits of close to $51 million; net revenues for the period rose 2% to $1.1 billion, as assets increased 9% to $485 billion.


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