Dan Arnold became CEO of LPL Financial in January, taking the reins from Mark Casady, who had led the independent broker-dealer for nearly 15 years.
How big a shift was the move?
“I worked really hard as president of LPL and didn’t think I could work any harder. But then I got the CEO job and realized I was wrong!” Arnold explained in an interview.
“That said, I wake up every day energized by our work and humbled by the opportunity to lead our great team into the next chapter at LPL,” he added.
Arnold was tapped as the IBD’s president two years ago. He joined LPL in 2007, as part of the firm’s purchase of Uvest, a broker-dealer working with banks and credit unions, and went on to serve as LPL’s CFO starting in 2012.
“Dan is an entrepreneurial leader who understands how to grow a business. He took a start-up and grew it into a market leader at Uvest,” said Casady, who recently stepped down from both the CEO and chairman slots. “He is all about the team and not his own interests.”
Assuming the top post at the IBD is a challenge to say the least. LPL works with over 14,000 financial advisors, 700-plus financial institutions, 4,000 insurance advisors and some $528 billion in advisory and brokerage assets. LPL’s affiliate advisors service roughly 46,000 retirement plans with about $127 billion in assets, and the firm has over 3,200 employees in Boston, San Diego, Charlotte, North Carolina, and other locations.
How does Arnold see his new role and how does it plan to tackle it? “I have a strong passion for our strategy of driving growth by focusing on our core business, enhancing our capabilities and executing with excellence,” he said.
For the CEO, three priorities are front, right and center. They are to “focus on delivering results; make sure we have an on-purpose organization aligned on priorities; and listen to a variety of different constituencies for input on moving the business forward.”
The LPL leader does not shy away from tough issues. At last year’s advisor conference in August, Arnold laid out how the firm was addressing changes in regulation, technology and client expectations.
Most important, he said, was advisors’ service experience “as our top priority. We have heard you. The better [the service experience] is, the better your experience is, and the better you can serve your clients. It’s important to get it right.”
While in 2015, LPL staff took about two minutes to answer the phone, the firm had brought that down to an average of 17 seconds a year later, chiefly by adding staff and investing in technology, its executives say.
Arnold says he hopes to drive further improvements by walking the walk – and talking the talk. “I talk to advisors a lot and feel those conversations are very important,” he explained.
“In addition to our advisor conferences and other LPL events, I have a 30 -minute call with four different advisors every month so I can hear their perspectives,” he said. “These calls and meetings are an opportunity for me to learn from them and enhance the way I think about the business.”
Arnold also reaches out to a broader base of IBD and industry insiders – which his mentor showed him is critical.
“Mark [Casady] has an extraordinary network that he used to keep him informed about the business and our industry,” the freshly minted CEO said. “He taught me the importance of building a network inside and outside the company that can help me lead and manage our business moving forward.”
As for the CEO he replaced, the now-retired Casady couldn’t be more pleased with his successor.
“I am thrilled that Dan [took] up the mantle of LPL’s profound mission,” Casady said in a statement earlier this year. “I will be able to retire knowing the company is in good hands and with bright prospects for the future.”
For Arnold and others with the IBD, the lessons and legacy of Casady are strong motivators.
“I’m very grateful for Mark’s leadership and stewardship of LPL over the years — through good times and bad,” he explained. “We were all lifted up by his passion and commitment. I also have a deep appreciation for Mark’s coaching and mentorship over the years.”
— Read Frontrunners: The 2017 IA 25 on ThinkAdvisor.