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Two Ways LPL Plans to Innovate: New Mobile App, Virtual Assistants

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LPL Financial plans to launch a new mobile app in 2018 so advisors’ clients can access their account information anywhere, anytime.

President and CEO Dan Arnold made the announcement before a crowd of 4,000 advisors and other guests at the opening general session of the independent broker-dealer’s yearly conference, LPL Focus, taking place this week in Boston.

“For the past 10 years, we’ve heard about all this change going on in the industry,” Arnold told the crowd. “I think we’ve heard about technology driving up prices. How about how regulatory changes will drive up cost? Or even how the millennials don’t want our advice, and maybe worst of all, over the next few years, [how] we’re all going to be replaced by robots.”

Arnold, though, says this disruption represents “tremendous opportunity.” To help advisors adapt and thrive in this climate, LPL has developed and implemented several new strategies and practices, which he outlined in his talk.

Afterwards, Arnold spoke with the media about LPL’s two newest ideas for innovation — the new mobile app and the “Uberization” of the wealth-advice business. The CEO explained that the “Uberization” of LPL basically means capitalizing on the “shared economy” concept that Uber helped develop.

“When we think about trying to help advisors run a business, how do you think about tapping into that shared economy concept in order to help them lower the costs associated with their overhead?” Arnold asked. One way to do this is through a “virtual assistant,” he says.

Instead of having a physical human assistant, advisors could tap into LPL, which would manage a group of virtual assistants for its affiliated advisors. “Now, I [would] pay for when I use it, I don’t have to train them, [and] I don’t have to manage them,” he explained.

Best of all, Arnold said, “They’re going to know the systems, so it takes friction out of the system, which potentially lowers my cost [as an advisor] and allows me to allocate my time to the highest yield.”

The virtual assistants could be used “any way that that advisor would leverage a traditional assistant,” he said. This might mean doing things like opening a new account, processing paperwork and responding to client requests. The virtual assistants would work in concert with live staff employed by LPL at one of its home offices, in say Charlotte, North Carolina, or San Diego.

“What we would do is to overlay technology on top of that to create the personal connectivity, so you can use video or other ways to build that connection and relationship with the advisor,” Arnold explained.

Arnold said LPL has been experimenting with this virtual assistant concept and has “gotten really good feedback” from advisors testing it.

More Developments

To date, LPL has lowered costs, improved workflows and enhanced investment content on its centrally managed platform, Arnold told the crowd assembled in Boston.

Separately managed platforms will undergo similar enhancements, such as expanding the ability to use them in more places. These developments to platforms and products will let advisors better serve clients and do so at competitive prices, according to LPL.

During the next month-end cycle in August, LPL will roll out what Arnold calls “cool new statements,” which should reduce the amount of time advisors spend discussing such information with clients. Also, LPL plans improvements to its investor portal, AccountView, later this year.

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