Ron Carson still raking LPL over the coals

His 'Why I left LPL' webinar argues that conditions at the broker-dealer have gotten worse, not better, over the past year

Mar 1, 2018 @ 3:43 pm

By Jeff Benjamin

A year after ending his broker-dealer relationship with LPL Financial, the founder and chief executive of Carson Group took to the airwaves Wednesday afternoon to underscore that his reasons for leaving continue to be justified.

"In my opinion, things have gotten worse" at LPL since the Carson Group's January 2017 move from LPL to Cetera Financial Group, Ron Carson said during his video webcast entitled "Why I left LPL."

The hour-long conversation, which was moderated by Carson Group chief operating officer Teri Shepherd, often drifted toward promotional attributes of the $11 billion registered investment adviser, such as its 41% growth rate last year.

But Mr. Carson took shots at LPL on such topics as outdated technology and having a management team that acts as a "fiduciary to shareholders," instead of acting in the best interest of advisers and clients.

Mr. Carson, who said he began thinking about leaving LPL in 2011, cited a conversation with a "very high-net-worth client, who was telling us how far behind we were at LPL in terms of what we could do." He said he presented the complaints to "higher-ups," who denied that there was a problem.

When Mr. Carson finally decided to leave LPL after 28 years with the broker-dealer, he cited antiquated technology as one of the drivers.

"I didn't want to leave, it's a major pain in the backside to leave," he said during the webinar.

"They said they were going to deliver what we've asked for, and we would have service-level agreements that would be able to hold their feet to the fire," he added. "I was so excited about no more PowerPoint promises. But, again, nothing happened."

An LPL spokesman declined to comment for this story.

Mr. Carson compared LPL to "old telecom companies that had so much invested in anchors of the past, they couldn't invest in engines of the future."

"You can't change the engine on a 747 in midflight," he added.

Even those advisers who are still hanging in there and supporting LPL acknowledge that the company has work to do.

"LPL has experienced technology challenges in part because of its growth," said Bob Fragasso, chief executive of Fragasso Financial Advisors, a $1.3 billion hybrid RIA firm affiliated with LPL.

"LPL needs to evolve its technology and systems in stride with its growth path," he added. "They are working feverishly to fix it."

Mr. Fragasso, who described Mr. Carson as a friend of 22 years, said of the webinar's theme, "In any sales situation, one is better off to tout one's positives and not beat up on a competitor's negatives."

"I never doubt LPL's sincerity and desire to improve it as quickly as possible," Mr. Fragasso added. "But those of us challenged with that feel frustration."

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