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In the aftermath of the October 1987 stock market crash, the need for quality, independent advice was evident – especially as such counsel was only available through traditional Wall Street firms, which offered wealth management advice to the moneyed classes.
It was in this climate that LPL Financial was founded, with a simple yet revolutionary idea for the financial services sector: supporting the best interests of its advisors and their clients.
“LPL was born out of a cool, compelling question some 35 years ago: how do we provide higher-quality independent objective advice to anyone in the United States who needs it?” CEO Dan Arnold tells The CEO Magazine. “Solving that question remains at the core of what we do.”
Since its founding, LPL Financial has flourished, becoming a Fortune 500 company and a respected leader in financial services. The company provides technology, brokerage and investment advisory services to a wide range of clients, including independent financial advisors, registered investment advisors and financial institutions and their financial representatives.
Based in San Diego, California, LPL Financial supports more than 22,000 financial advisors and more than 1,100 financial institutions, which use its services and platform to serve more than five million American families. Arnold reveals he wakes up with the same passion every morning: helping financial advisors help their clients achieve their dreams and plan for their future.
“We want to be a champion for the financial advisor in this marketplace, as well as the champion for financial institutions that offer this solution,” he says.
At the same time, Arnold takes pride in the fact that the company is helping financial advisors build and grow their businesses.
“I love spending time working with advisors,” he enthuses. “When they want to talk about leadership in their business or about scaling their business or evolving their value proposition to help them run a better business – I am so passionate about helping people do that.”
This entrepreneurial mindset is one that LPL Financial brings to the financial services sector, with Arnold explaining that it drives the company’s success as it continues to scale.
An engineer by training, Arnold joined LPL Financial as a divisional president in 2006. He was promoted to CFO in 2012, then President in 2015 and assumed the CEO position two years later.
His focus in that time has been on helping the company’s 8,000 employees achieve consistent results.
“We want to create repeatable, sustainable success for all of our stakeholders,” he explains, comparing the process to a football team winning the Super Bowl every season rather than winning it once and deflating afterward.
To achieve this, LPL Financial has developed strategies for capitalizing on the drivers pushing the wealth management sector, which is projected to grow in value from US$27 trillion to US$37 trillion over the next decade, according to Arnold.
“You’ve got the growing demand for advice. The world gets more and more complex and noisier, and more and more people don’t have the confidence to do it themselves. They need help,” he points out. “Our advisors have a big opportunity to continue to lean into that growing demand and we don’t see that changing.”
In his role, Arnold has also focused on a horizontal expansion strategy for LPL Financial, which helps create more flexibility for how financial advisors and institutions such as banks and credit unions can affiliate with LPL Financial.
“There are 300,000 advisors licensed in the marketplace,” he says. “If they’re looking for a way to do business differently going forward, we can have a relevant dialogue with them.”
However, Arnold understands that none of this is possible without a corporate culture conducive to executing strategies and that also attracts the right people.
“I became a real believer that culture eats strategy for breakfast,” he reveals. “In order to drive success over the long-term, our strategy and ability to execute have to sit atop a strong cultural foundation and be complemented by the best talent.”
In transforming LPL Financial’s culture, Arnold has been careful to focus on clients, ensuring the company remains agile, nimble and innovative.
“We want to constantly ask better and more relevant questions in order to improve our understanding of our clients’ needs and ultimately deliver more innovative and compelling solutions,” he says.
“We’ll then be more agile to adapt to change in the marketplace, and rather than seeing change as a problem, we can flip how we orient to it and turn it into an opportunity.”
While this may seem like a lot to expect from one company, Arnold believes that LPL Financial is up to the challenge.
“We’re on a journey to turn agility into an organizational superpower,” he says proudly. “We believe this sets us apart and positions us to solve the needs of these clients better than anyone else.”