LPL Financial is revamping its account opening process, reducing the number of fields clients have to fill out and consolidating the process into one signing event, a la Amazon.com. The new system will be available to the firm’s more than 16,000 advisors this summer.
The initiative is part of a wider LPL effort by Chief Investment Officer Burt White to improve advisors’ most critical workflows, said Rich Steinmeier, managing director and head of business development.
Steinmeier and his team started by looking closely at account opening documents. The data elements that need to be completed will be reduced by 25 to 35%.
“We brought everybody into the room for multiple four-hour sessions,” he said. “It wasn't easy work. We had representation from compliance, supervision, legal, the business, the account opening team, operations, everybody in a room. The business said, ‘What do we need to actually make sure that we're properly reflecting the client's needs in the accounts?’”
Some of the reductions came from fields where the intention was duplicated in another data element. But a far larger number of reductions came from data fields that were already required at a transaction event.
“So you don't need to have it at the account opening because because you're going to capture that event before you authorize a transaction,” Steinmeier said.
The firm is also improving the document signing process. Ninety-six percent of advisors who transition to LPL’s platform use e-signature, and it’s delivered and executed via email. But currently every e-signature account that the client has to sign comes in a separate email. Some advisors complained to the firm that clients weren’t completing the signatures in all the emails.
“When you tell the client they have documents to sign and you send three emails, they may do the first two and then they either fatigue on the third one or don't realize there's a third one,” he said.
Now the signing event will be bundled into one email, similar to the way Amazon has one checkout when a person’s shopping cart is full.
“You don't just checkout for toilet paper, and then checkout for socks, and then checkout for a book, you bundle them into a shopping cart, and you have one checkout event,” Steinmeier said. “This is something that feels like it might be benign, but it's really material to having a fast transition.”
The firm has also added a status bar to its account opening system, so clients and advisors can see the percentage completion and what data elements are missing. They’ve also built in contextual help.
“So if there's a data field you don't understand, you don't have to go up to ‘Help’ bar. It's actually got contextual help right on the right-hand bar of the account opening screens.”