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LPL Pushes Upstream to Court HNW Clients

LPL Pushes Upstream to Court HNW Clients

16:44 27 May in In the News

May 27, 2015

By Danielle Verbrigghe, FUNDFfire 

LPL Financial is arming its advisors to attract high-net-worth clients and hitting the road to promote its new private client program.

LPL first started offering its new private client program, which includes consulting services, practice management, research and technology resources geared at helping advisors attract and serve high-net-worth clients, late last year to a selective group of advisors. Now the firm has opened the program up to its entire force of more than 14,000 advisors across its independent broker-dealer and registered investment advisor (RIA) channels. The firm has also stepped up efforts at promoting the new offering, hoping to drive growth in the high-net-worth segment.

As part of its efforts, LPL is calling on its third-party asset management partners to play a role in helping educate advisors about tactics and strategies for serving wealthy investors.

Since the private client program program’s initial launch, the platform has gained adoption both from advisors currently serving high-net-worth clients, and those aspiring to attract such clients, says Matt Enyedi, executive v.p. of registered investment advisor (RIA) and high-net-worth solutions at LPL Financial.

While independent brokerages haven’t historically been big players in the high-net-worth space, LPL executives are betting the new offering, and other steps to bolster programs, will give the firm a boost. LPL also draws on resources from its newly integrated affiliate Fortigent, to help advisors serve higher-end clients.

“We continue to see the growth,” Enyedi says. “We continue to see the opportunity.”

LPL had $27 billion in high-net-worth client assets at the end of 2014. A spokesman declined to give an updated figure to gauge growth so far this year or specify how much in assets have been brought in through the private client program so far this year, or in the first quarter. But Enyedi says this year has also seen strong growth.

“April should be the largest high-net-worth month of asset gathering that we’ve seen in the history of LPL,” Enyedi says.

But LPL likely faces tough competition in attracting advisors serving high-net-worth clients, says Jon Henschen, president of Henschen & Associates, an independent-brokerage focused recruiting firm. And its advisor base will face tough competition attracting such clients, he says.

“The high-net-worth segment is increasingly crowded,” Henschen says.

If LPL is successful in its push upmarket, it could also create more opportunities for separately managed account (SMA) managers to distribute through the platform.

“As we continue to be successful winning those types of advisors and serving those types of clients, SMAs certainly have an appeal,” Enyedi says. Although the firm offers its independent advisors a broad open architecture platform, “It seems logical that you’d see an uptick in the SMA world from LPL advisors serving the high-net-worth space.”

LPL’s SMA programs have about $5.2 billion in assets, according to information from the firm from February. But LPL was the seventh largest managed account program sponsor overall, with $183.7 billion in assets at the end of the first quarter, across its various advisory programs, according to data from Cerulli Associates.

And there is room for third party managers to participate in LPL’s high-net-worth initiatives.

At the firm’s Private Wealth Symposium last week, “the vast majority of the content was delivered by third parties,” Enyedi says. “We don’t think we’ve cornered the market on opportunities.”

LPL’s high-net-worth consulting team works with third party asset managers seeking new content and curriculum.

This year LPL launched a new series of city tours to promote its new high-net-worth offering to advisors around the country, in partnership with third party asset management partners, who can host some of the sessions. The firm’s first roadshow took place this spring. The next is set to begin in June, and another round is planned for later in the year.

LPL has taken other steps to streamline its organization and reboot resources focused on high-net-worth segments. Earlier this year LPL began integrating Fortigent into the broader organization, as reported. Last year the firm merged the research teams of Fortigent and LPL. This year LPL fine-tuned the team, adding new positions and the bolstering the process of conducting due diligence and research on third party managers, as reported.

Integrating the research teams of LPL and Fortigent has enabled the firm to expand the product selection, and provide institutional-type due diligence across more sophisticated investments, Enyedi says.

Bulking up resources for advisors serving high-net-worth clients could help LPL compete against other independent broker-dealers for such advisors, but probably won’t prepare them to compete with the wirehouses, says Henschen, the recruiter.

“I could see them making inroads with the lower end of the wealthy segments with $1 million to $5 million, but as they try to aim target higher and higher [-end investors], it gets increasingly hard,” Henschen says.

LPL would have a hard time attracting those with more than $10 million, because of the more complex services such investors expect, such as support with art appraisals or leasing jets, Henschen says.