LPL reports robust recruiting in 2016

The firm also addressed the recent departures of groups managing about $2 billion in brokerage assets — including star adviser Ron Carson — on its earnings call

Feb 9, 2017 @ 5:21 pm

By Bruce Kelly

After a slow start to recruiting in 2016, LPL Financial Holdings Inc. picked up steam and on Thursday afternoon it said had added net 323 financial advisers in 2016, a 2% increase when compared to the number of advisers at the end of 2015.

At the end of December, the firm had 14,377 advisers. That's compared to December 31, 2015, when LPL financial had 14,054 advisers, according to the company's earnings release.

The firm has stated in the past it has a goal of recruiting 300 to 400 net new advisers annually.

"I am honored to lead LPL into our next phase of growth," said Dan Arnold, president and newly appointed CEO. Mr. Arnold took over for Mark Casady at the start of the year.

"We had a strong 2016 with our best recruiting year ever, and we made significant progress on service, technology, and preparing for the DOL fiduciary rule,” Mr. Arnold said.

(More: Dan Arnold, LPL's new CEO, to be in the spotlight during earnings call)

For the quarter ending in December, the company reported net income of $42 million, or $0.46 per share, compared to $27 million, or $0.28 per share, in the fourth quarter of 2015.

In a presentation to investors, the company said that performance had steadily improved in four key metrics. Total brokerage and advisory assets were $509 billion at the end of year, an increase of 7% when compared to the end of 2015. Meanwhile, over the same period of time, gross profit was up 8% to $1.4 billion; earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization — EBITDA — increased 25% to $508 million; and earnings per diluted share was up 64% to $2.13.

LPL net income, commission revenue and adviser headcount, 2009-2016

On the earnings call, Mr. Arnold addressed the recent departures of a couple of large groups, such as star adviser Ron Carson, who left LPL in January for rival Cetera Financial Group. Those groups manage about $2 billion in brokerage assets, according to LPL.

Mr. Arnold did not point to any specific advisers by name, but quickly raised the issue in the first few minutes of the earnings call.

“From time to time we have relationships that are not a good fit,” he said. “It's better to part ways, and we wish them well.”

LPL allocates its resources to adviser practices best aligned with the firm and that make best use of its services, he said.

(More: Ron Carson reveals friction with LPL led to move to Cetera)

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