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LPL Addresses Black Advisor Issues in New Video Series

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What You Need to Know

  • The share of Black advisors in the industry remains low.
  • The videos feature six Black LPL advisors tackling diversity problems they and Black investors face.

As part of LPL Financial’s ongoing diversity initiatives, the firm has launched a new video series, “Around the Table: Black LPL Advisor Voices,” featuring six Black LPL advisors who gathered virtually to have a meaningful conversation about problems facing Black advisors and investors.

The seven-episode series launched in time for Black History Month in February and will run through March 30, with a new episode released weekly at the LPL newsroom.

The discussions are moderated by Lauren Taylor Riley, head of LPL’s Advisor Diversity & Inclusion team. The advisors share their perspectives on overcoming barriers to success, why they chose to become independent financial advisors, the importance of mentorship and how the industry can better serve the Black community, among other topics.

LPL’s D&I program is “focused on three primary areas,” Taylor Riley told ThinkAdvisor in a phone interview Thursday. They are: “Bringing in more diversity as far as our advisors coming into LPL, making sure that the current advisors that we have at LPL are adequately resourced to grow their business and serve their clients, and then also finding new ways to address barriers to growth of those underrepresented advisor groups,” she said.

The company had long addressed diversity issues, but its dedicated D&I team was created in 2018 to step up its initiatives in those three areas, she said. “We’ve had a great three-year progression of establishing a relationship with our advisors and finding out, first of all, what’s most important to them and finding out the ways that we can address some of those concerns and be great partners.”

Still a Long Way to Go

The percentage of advisors at LPL who are Black is “about on par with the industry across the board, which — as we all know — has definite room for improvement,” Taylor Riley conceded. Blacks and Hispanics make up only a “low single-digit percentage” of LPL’s advisors, according to the company.

A report from the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards found that Black and Latino advisors represented less than 4% of CFP professionals in 2020, LPL noted.

The CFP Board said last month that the number of Black and Hispanic CFP professionals increased to 3,688, up 12.6% from 3,274 in 2019. The growth rate was almost five times that of all CFP professionals. The number of Black CFPs grew to 1,493, but they still accounted for only 1.68% of planners. The number of Hispanic CFPs increased to 2,170 (2.46% of CFPs). There were only 25 biracial Black and Hispanic CFPs (.028% of CFPs).

A recent Cerulli study, meanwhile, pointed to a lack of familiarity with the financial advisory profession, particularly among women and people of color, as a barrier to breaking into the industry, LPL noted.

Video Series

“We brought these advisors together during Black History Month for a special video series because we believe representation truly matters,” Taylor Riley said in a statement.

“At LPL, our goal is to reflect the diverse marketplace and be agents of positive change in our industry,” she said. “We believe everyone brings a different perspective to the table, and we are committed to cultivating spaces for underrepresented advisor groups to connect, share best practices for growing their businesses and have the opportunity to be a part of a community of peers with similar backgrounds and shared experiences.”

In the first episode, “Barriers to Entry,” the group discusses barriers facing Black advisors, who are still underrepresented in the industry.

“When there’s nobody that looks like you in a hiring position, it makes it that much more difficult to compete,” LPL advisor Brian Butler of Wealth Standard Financial said in the LPL video discussion, referring to entry-level positions in most wirehouses. “It’s a hard mountain to climb, and the business is hard enough anyway.”

Other barriers to success for Black advisors, according to the group, include compensation issues, lack of training and mentorship opportunities, preconceived biases and difficulties establishing a client base, LPL said.