How one LPL advisor has refocused his value proposition on the client
A few years ago, LPL Financial advisor Brian Ursu realized he needed to spend less time on investment management so he could focus on providing other, value-added services to his clients.
“I was at a conference, and I heard the presenter say that if you believe your unique value proposition is rooted in how you manage money, you will definitely be replaced, because technology is going to take over,” he says. “That really resonated with me and forced me to reevaluate my value proposition.”
But Brian also knew that he wanted to continue offering his clients portfolios he built—he just needed a way to scale it. His answer came when LPL launched Model Wealth Portfolios (MWP) Advisor Sleeve.
“Using the tool creates more time and capacity for me to develop more meaningful relationships with my clients and offer them more value-added services,” he says, “because I’m not the one making the trades or rebalancing the portfolio.”
No more rebalancing headaches
While Brian was already running an efficient practice through models and the Enhanced Trading and Rebalancing Tool, Advisor Sleeve has even further reduced the time it takes him to set up, transition, or trade accounts.
“Previously, we’d have to wait for the money to clear, create the tickets, and place the trades,” he says. “It’s all easy with technology, but it still takes time. With Advisor Sleeve, everything’s done automatically upon account opening.”
Where Brian really finds value is in the automated trading that happens when rebalancing is needed. “The automated rebalancing is, to me, the big advantage,” he says. “First there are the systematic withdrawals. Every time money comes out, the account is automatically rebalanced back to the target allocation. But even better is the rebalancing that happens when a client wants to pull out money or contribute new money.”
Brian routinely has clients come to him with requests for contributions or distributions — and it always seems to happen right after he rebalances their portfolio.
“MWP Advisor Sleeve is beautiful in that it doesn’t matter how often a client takes out money, because LPL will automatically rebalance it every time,” he says, “and the fee we pay for the platform covers the ticket charges. It’s all invisible to me, which is just amazing. I can’t tell you how much easier it’s made my life.”
Transitioning from Strategic Asset Management (SAM) to MWP Advisor Sleeve
Brian, who had been using SAM II, is working to transition his existing clients to Advisor Sleeve and is putting all new clients immediately into the platform. While he’s taking a thoughtful approach, he hopes to transition the majority of his clients into Advisor Sleeve over time.
“On the clients we’ve converted, we’ve just let them know that because of the amount of activity on their account, we’re moving to a different style of account that we’re still managing, just in a much more automated manner,” he says. “All of our clients have been accepting of the change.”
New clients don’t know any different, as he simply introduces the models he intends to use for their strategy, without needing to get into the nitty gritty details of the tool. But he’s also letting new clients know they have the option to put money in a strategist model alongside his, since the capability is available through Advisor Sleeve.
Clearing the primary hurdle: Cost
With how easy it is to use Advisor Sleeve and the amount of time you can save—all while continuing to build portfolios yourself — why wouldn’t you want to use the platform? Well, Brian recognizes the only hurdle that really exists is the admin fee.
“That’s primarily the main sticking point,” he says. “But ultimately, I believe you’re going to have to make the concession at some point, one way or another. Either you’ll have to reduce your fee as investment management becomes less of a differentiator, hire someone to help you, or use tools like Advisor Sleeve to gain time so you can enhance client relationships with other, value-added services.”
For Brian, the extra cost wasn’t a barrier, even though he made the decision to eat the cost himself and not pass it along to his clients. “I’m exchanging money for time,” he says, “and for us it’s a good exchange. We’re able to help our clients with financial planning, charitable planning, and legacy planning. We’re also doing family meetings now with our clients. All of this is adding to our value and deepening our relationships.”
But offering clients more planning services isn’t all Brian’s been able to do with his additional time. He’s also been writing a blog to increase his digital marketing.
“I now put out a blog bi-weekly, and while there’s not necessarily a direct correlation between writing one blog post and obtaining a new client, it does, over time, make an impact,” he says. “I’ve had prospects tell me that they read a couple of my blog posts, and my perspective really resonated with them and made them want to work with me.”
As a result of all these new efforts, Brian’s practice has grown. “Even with the pandemic, we’re up 15% over last year, and last year was a record,” he says. “In addition to the new services and marketing efforts, we’ve also been able to scale up and take on new clients.”
On top of practice growth, Brian feels Advisor Sleeve has had a positive impact on his life and work overall. “I want to like my life. I want to like my job,” he says. “I don’t want to be staring at a spreadsheet all day. Advisor Sleeve has freed me up to be in front of my clients more than before and made my job that much more enjoyable.”
Advisor Sleeve helps put the focus back on the client
For Brian, being a financial advisor is all about helping clients by building relationships. “While clients need smart portfolios to help work toward their goals, creating a custom portfolio for each client just isn’t an efficient use of time,” he says. “This is a relationship business, bottom line. I don’t care how good performance is, if the relationship isn’t strong, that client isn’t going to stay.”
So Brian focuses on the relationship first, and the investment management second.
“While clients might initially come to us because of our investment philosophy, they stay because of the relationship we build,” he says. “Advisor Sleeve allows us to build that relationship.”
To learn more about Advisor Sleeve, LPL advisors can visit the Resource Center under Investment and Planning Solutions | Model Wealth Portfolios, or keyword search “Advisor Sleeve”.
This material has been created for a Financial Professional audience. The content is designed for licensed financial professionals and may not include the level of detail, explanation and disclosure needed for a general audience to accurately evaluate the facts.