National Planning Holdings said Friday that it has upgraded the fee-based advisory platform used by about 3,500 affiliated independent registered representatives. Several enhancements are being delivered in December and over the next year or so, including investment strategies offered by BlackRock and American Funds, as well as Unified Managed Accounts.

“The coming years are going to be a time of significant change in the retail financial advice industry, and we are committed to investing in the tools, processes and resources that will help advisors meet the needs of their clients,” said Scott Romine, president & CEO of NPH, in a statement. “In that spirit, we are confident that the series of service and operational enhancements we have begun to introduce today will make our advisory platform one of the best in the business.”

To help lead this effort, NPH hired Tim Munsie as its new vice president of advisory platform strategy; it also boosted the number of advisory consultants by 50% and based them in the home territories of their assigned advisors.

National Planning Holdings is the parent firm of independent broker-dealers INVEST Financial Corp., Investment Centers of America, National Planning Corp. and SII Investments. NPH is affiliated with Jackson National Life Insurance Co.; both entities are owned by Prudential of the United Kingdom.

“We are excited to work with NPH and launch our series of BlackRock Managed Portfolio Strategies on NPH’s state-of-the-art WealthONE platform,” said Greg Weiss, head of BlackRock’s managed accounts business, in a statement. “Our asset allocation and goals-based strategies represent the next frontier for managed accounts to help advisors scale their practice and focus on holistic wealth management… It’s a win-win.”

At least one industry consultant agrees.

“Although NPH still has work to do in a number of areas, the fact that the company has a well-resourced and stable ownership structure, scale in terms of reps and revenues, and a new CEO who knows the business well and seems supportive of NPH’s individual member broker-dealers are encouraging signs,” said Jeff Nash, CEO of Nash Consulting Group, in a statement shared with ThinkAdvisor via email. “In this context, the enhancements to the NPH fee-based advisory platform appear to be part of a broader focus for the company on becoming more dynamic and growth-oriented.”

The IBD group also says it plans to introduce technology that focuses on financial planning and retirement income tools, as well as data management and reporting capabilities. In addition, it is working to “redefine the network’s fiduciary process” to help advisors meet new regulatory requirements.

“By leveraging our people, technology and product solutions, we can accomplish the goal of producing a single, fully integrated platform that allows the network’s advisors to offer a wider range of solutions for their clients,” said Romine. “The end result will also provide increased opportunities for advisors and help effectively prepare them for significant shifts in the changing regulatory environment.”

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