LPL introduced a comprehensive support program last month for banks' licensed branch employees. The program will be offered in conjunction with Epic Platforms.

Rob Comfort, an executive vice president of business consulting in LPL's financial institution unit, says that licensed branch employees are a major opportunity that many banks have not tapped to its full potential.

In fact, many bank programs do not have LBEs at all, so advisors end up shouldering much of the workload that could be done by lesser-credentialed employees.

Indeed, Comfort says many bank programs dedicate roughly half their people to customers in the mass-market segment (which LPL defines as those with $100,000 or less in investable assets), even though that segment produces just 5% of the bank's revenue. This new program is designed to meld that disconnect in a cost-efficient way by helping banks start or enhance their licensed branch employee programs in a customized way to fit their specific needs. The program will include ongoing training and education for LBEs, he says.

Comfort also says the industry is on the cusp of a major shift as banks and credit unions are struggling to generate revenue these days, and are increasingly turning to their wealth management units to be a significant part of non-interest income.

The success of a licensed bank employee program, Comfort notes, comes from the proper mind-set. That is, they're not there to push products, but rather to first drill down and accurately assess the financial needs of the client. Selling comes later, he says. Another important part is ensuring the bank's existing financial advisors are on board to act as mentors of sorts. "We help train the trainers," he explains.

In addition to the advisors, the new program is specifically aimed at bank and credit union executives, Comfort says. He notes that the executives need to understand the value of LBEs and be on board with the idea in order for it to succeed.

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