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Industry Spotlight > Broker Dealers

LPL Testing Paraplanning, Other Advisor Programs

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What You Need to Know

  • The firm is learning from innovators such as Peloton and Amazon to offer its advisors more digitally based services.
  • It's got a pilot project in place for paraplanning, a process that can take 10 hours or more for advisors and clients.
  • The firm’s New Ventures Lab, which opened in October, is responsible for "incubating" the ideas.

Burt White, LPL Financial’s chief investment officer, entertained advisors at the firm’s online conference last week as he worked out on an “LPLoton.” But his colleague Aneri Jambusaria, head of strategy, new ventures and analytics, says the broker-dealer takes innovators like Peloton very seriously. 

In fact, Peloton’s out-of-the-box approach to exercise  like Amazon’s transformation of shopping experience  has prompted the broker-dealer to consider new ways to give advisors and their clients services such as paraplanning and comprehensive advice. 

“While exercise machines have been around forever, they really figured out that customers want to be motivated to use them,” she said in a recent interview with ThinkAdvisor.

Consumers are busy and (due at least in part to the pandemic) want to be able to work out in new ways at home, “The advice industry is really no different   investors have more on their minds and more complex lives than ever before,” Jambusaria explained.

‘Innovation Agenda’

As a result, advisors are looking for more methods to meet clients’ growing demands and increasing comfort level with “a human professional wrapped in a digital experience,” she said. These are “customer friction points that create innovation opportunities [for LPL] … , which is really the context behind our innovation agenda.”

Thanks to this agenda, LPL can roll out more new programs through its Business Solutions unit, which is led by Matthew Enyedi, according to Jambusaria. These products and services allow advisors to spend less time on administrative and marketing tasks and more time working directly with clients.

The firm’s New Ventures Lab, which opened in October, is responsible for “incubating the ideas,” she added, and then other units of the independent broker-dealer — such as Business Solutions — run with them. 

“This will be the process with what we’re doing now with comprehensive advice,” for instance. “You’ll hear more about it as a strategic priority for 2022,” Jambusaria noted, as advisors are asked to help clients with more complex planning, tax, estate, retirement and other issues than before  which requires specific expertise. 

“It’s not just about helping clients pick a great stock or asset allocation. They’re really asking their advisors to help them figure out where to live in retirement, make sure that a child with special needs is set up for long-term success and so forth,” she explained.

Pilot Project

A different project for LPL that’s in the pilot stage is focused on paraplanning solutions, which typically involve someone within a practice building “a full financial picture of a client” as the foundation of a financial plan and the advisor-client relationship, according to Jambusaria. 

This process can take 10 hours or more, the executive pointed out, “depending on the complexity of the client, gathering all the data and putting it into the [financial planning] tool and running the scenarios.”

With 24 advisors, “we’re piloting a solution in which LPL would do all of that work for our advisors and give them time back … for building client relationships,” Jambusaria said.

“How do we better scale that data-gathering process, whether it through a better interface with clients or a way to use machine learning, to take documents that clients provide and scrape the right information from [the documents] to be able to leverage it? This is what we’re exploring,” she added. The pilot program is meant “to build and test some technical elements of the solution along the way.”