February Issue

CEO Says IT Fuels Investment Advice

For Mark Casady, CEO of LPL Financial, IT is essential to adviser efficiency and the best customer experience

For Mark Casady, CEO of LPL Financial, IT is essential to adviser efficiency and the best customer experience.

How is technology changing LPL as a business? Technology is affecting LPL in terms of efficiency, transparency and consumer expectations. We are replacing key technologies, including document management, performance reporting, a portfolio rebalancing tool and cashiering technologies, to help our employees operate more efficiently.

Our new mobile AccountView gives our clients--financial advisers--account information anywhere, at any time. Before, our clients were limited to a digital copy of customer statements; now, they can see accounts and asset allocations in a more sophisticated way. We have also put in an Internet-based phone system, which allows us to better monitor and analyze call trends from the millions of calls we receive to improve service quality.

Our goal is to provide advisers with technology that enables customers to manage their financial lives similarly to how they manage their personal lives.

What is one technology that you are particularly proud of? We have a network of more than 14,000 independent advisers--and tens of thousands more licensed staff--who need information about processing a form, setting up a 529 [account] or learning the tax implications of passing an IRA from one generation to another. Years ago, we created The Resource Center, where our advisers could access all that information. We completely overhauled that tool by redesigning the user interface and putting in a smart, robust search engine. We've also eliminated 80 percent of the content, so that the site provides only information that is current and relevant.

One of our advisers described the old resource center as "the New York City white pages unalphabetized." I thought, "That's funny, but it's sad." Now, our advisers praise the tool.

How do you create a culture of innovation at LPL? The best innovation does not happen when you're taking a shower or driving to work. Innovation occurs in the moment an employee thinks, "I could make this process better."

We just put in Spigit, which provides a systematic way for employees to submit ideas for process improvement, new client offerings and other business enhancements. We are using technology to institutionalize an innovation process and then funding good ideas and telling success stories about them.

Our CIO, Victor Fetter, started "Innovation Days," which allows members of the IT organization to join an innovation team and develop an idea over the course of a day. A committee selects a set of those ideas, asks the team to price them, and then funds the best. We might start with 50 ideas, refine them to 20, and then fund six. These are "in the moment" projects, not massive multimillion-dollar builds.

What skills do you value in your CIO? I value the depth of Victor's mobility knowledge, but I also value his leadership skills and ability to hold the IT team accountable for delivery dates, quality and investment decisions. Our CIO needs to get up on a main stage and win the hearts and minds of our employees and advisers. Victor is active on social media, so I was able to see YouTube videos of his presentations. I knew he was our next CIO before I even met him.

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