For this next edition of our Fintech Luminaries series, meet Mark Contey, Chief Business Development Officer of LaSalle St., a Chicago-based family of wealth management firms encompassing an independent broker-dealer; a registered investment adviser RIA) platform; and LaSalle St. Insurance Services, a provider of annuity and insurance products.
Industry doomsayers will doubtless continue to predict that only large firms will thrive in a landscape characterized by intensified consolidation.
Nevertheless, Mr. Contey and his colleagues at LaSalle St. have proven that there is continued robust demand among independent financial advisors for mid-sized firms that deliver the right mix of service culture, resources and stability.
Over the past 12 months alone, LaSalle St. has expanded total client assets by $1.5 billion, having recruited 14 financial advisor businesses, while retaining 100% of its existing affiliated advisors.
With more than 300 financial advisors throughout the country, approximately $10 billion in total client assets and a custodial and clearing relationship with Fidelity, LaSalle St. is widely recognized as a mid-sized firm that leverages a good mix of hands-on service and technology-enabled solutions to punch significantly above its weight.
Digital Wealth News recently connected with Mark Contey to get more of a sense of how LaSalle St. has been able to leverage the latest fintech strategies and tools to enable his firm to thrive in recruiting and retaining financial advisors, even in the face of competition from much larger firms.
Name: Mark Contey
Title: Chief Business Development Officer
Company: LaSalle St.
- With so many mid-sized firms that have a broker-dealer and corporate RIA struggling to succeed at recruiting and retaining financial advisors, LaSalle St is thriving. How have you accomplished this?
At a high level, we’re not afraid to fundamentally rethink the relationship between advisors and the firms that support them. We’re not in business to invent new fees to charge our advisors, or to pursue a strategy that prioritizes our growth over their success.
That mentality frees us to add value for advisors in innovative ways. For example, we provide loans to fund advisors’ practice M&A transactions directly from our own balance sheet, and we charge zero interest.
We also established our Fund & Annuity Help Desk to assist advisors in overseeing client assets that are held directly with fund and annuity providers – helping them to more effectively manage client assets the way they want to, rather than encouraging them to move those assets to our platform, as most other wealth management firms do today.
Other firms in our industry would approach both of those offerings as ways to make more money from their advisors. We don’t see it that way – for us, they’re simply opportunities to partner more closely with advisors to drive their growth.
This is further reinforced by our “Culture of Yes” approach – working to always deliver for advisors, even on big or challenging requests.
- What role has technology played in supporting your firm’s success?
Our strategic and selective approach to technology is at the heart of our ability to support financial advisors across multiple different business models.
As one example, our GuideTrack financial planning platform – which we discuss in more detail below – is one of the central features of our Growth Acceleration Platform for financial institution-based wealth management programs, which we announced on December 9.
By empowering financial institutions-based advisors to engage clients in substantive and far-reaching conversations about financial planning, GuideTrack is helping the institutions we support to more fully unlock the growth potential of their wealth management programs – allowing them to bring a new dimension to their client relationships and capture greater wallet share.
More broadly, we take a very thoughtful approach to technology in order to ensure that the tools and platforms we roll out are immediately and directly beneficial to our advisors and their clients. We offer powerful digital tools for portfolio management, document storage and reporting, and CRM – and we are continually seeking to further strengthen our technology capabilities in value-added ways.
- Earlier this quarter, LaSalle St launched its new GuideTrack financial planning platform. Can you give us an overview of the platform, and how it helps LaSalle St in its mission of supporting the business growth of its affiliated financial advisors?
GuideTrack is a powerful, fully-integrated digital financial planning offering that empowers both standalone practices and financial institution-based advisors to seamlessly manage each stage of the client relationship life cycle, from initial engagement and onboarding to planning, funding and ongoing account management. GuideTrack utilizes Fidelity’s award-winning Automated Management Platform (AMP), a robust digital advice solution that was co-developed by Fidelity and eMoney.
As you know, clients have come to expect more in recent years from the advisor service experience, and they have also diverged in terms of the support they want from technology.
Some clients prize the personal advisor connection more now than ever, but they also want powerful technology tools to help strengthen and extend that relationship – especially with COVID-19 making in-person interactions more difficult. On the other hand, you have tech-savvy clients who prioritize the efficiency and convenience of a digital wealth management experience – but who also want ongoing access to a human advisor.
In order to capture the broadest possible range of growth opportunities in today’s environment, advisors need to be able to serve both of these audiences seamlessly and with equal capabilities and attention to detail. GuideTrack has been developed with this in mind – and the results so far have been tremendous.
- Where do you see the greatest growth opportunities for financial advisors next year, and what tech-enabled tools is LaSalle St investing in to help the firm’s advisors capture these opportunities?
In the immediate term, we expect that many investors will see the start of a new administration as an opportunity to re-examine their long-term healthcare planning, since we now have a greater degree of clarity on healthcare policy over the next four years.
For advisors, this will create entry points for conversations with clients and prospective clients on the subject of Medicare. More broadly, it will also present opportunities to work with these investors on their financial planning needs – demonstrating again why we think GuideTrack will be such a critical tool for advisors in the year ahead.
As more current advisors reach retirement age next year, we also see practice acquisitions as a significant growth driver for next-gen financial professionals who will serve as succession planning partners to advisors who choose to exit the industry.
We offer extensive support capabilities to advisors who seek to grow via acquisition, including our zero-rate lending program and robust succession planning consulting, also provided free of charge.
As advisors have joined our platform to take advantage of these offerings, our technology platform has been crucial in facilitating their smooth transition, from our automated account opening and paperwork generation tools to our robust e-signature capabilities.