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LPL's Burt White's at the LPL Focus Virtual Conference
LPL Chief Investment Officer Burt White

LPL Tech Improvements Are Mostly Sequels

LPL's technology announcements included improved paperless workflows and a proprietary feature to make client meetings easier.

At its virtual advisor conference, LPL announced little in the way of original new technology, instead opting to go with a “sequels” theme for 2020. The firm said it would be improving its e-signature features and paperless agreements in its client portal, while debuting a proprietary meeting preparation and scheduling tool designed to make pre- and post-client meeting legwork easier for advisors. That particular tool, called Meeting Manager, is currently in “alpha” testing with select advisors.

Meanwhile, the reworked technology at LPL is designed to make advisors more efficient, said Burt White, chief investment officer at the firm.

The first improvement is a single agreement for clients to consent to paperless document delivery, with availability expected next month, according to White. By November, the firm expects to have added tax forms and client letters to the paperless options for clients. Those additions will make LPL “fully paperless,” he added.

LPL executives said developers were able to work through the pandemic without delays. Nevertheless, advisors will have to wait a few months for the deployment of other improvements.

LPL first announced e-signature capabilities seven years ago, but Thursday’s announcement was “about expanding the applicability” of e-signatures, said Rob Pettman, executive vice president of investor and investment solutions. Also slowing the adoption of e-signatures were product manufacturers, including some annuity firms, that still require ink on actual paper.

A bundled e-signature feature, where multiple documents needing electronic signatures are grouped together and sent to a client as a batch of documents, is coming “around the end of the year or beginning of next year,” White said.

“I can’t express the importance of using e-sig[nature] enough,” he added, citing the speed and reliability of electronic signatures compared to wet signatures.

By early 2021, LPL is expecting to make an improved “Move Money” function available to advisors, he said. The feature is meant to assist advisors in funding different accounts used by their clients.

Additionally, LPL announced a built-from-scratch “Meeting Manager” feature, not scheduled to launch until the end of the year and initially designed just for annual advisory meetings. It’s been in design since late last year.

Available on ClientWorks, the feature includes virtual calendaring and pre-populated meeting agendas. Reports can also be bundled into a meeting presentation. The tool includes an “initial” integration of ScheduleOnce, a scheduling tool that will also support third-party video calls if an advisor is using services such as Zoom or Webex.

LPL executives left open the option of adding additional third-party tools to the feature, saying it could eventually help the firm build functionality that would use algorithms to alert advisors to inquire about certain things from their end-clients. Prompts might include asking clients about specific goals or alerting the advisor to the underperformance of a certain asset.

Meeting Manager is intended to embody the connecting of third-party applications into an LPL-specific framework, and doing so in a way that “advisors couldn’t necessarily replicate themselves,” said Pettman. By early 2021, advisors affiliated with LPL will be able to decide for themselves—from their own scheduling and presentation preparation—how that approach is working.

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