HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Another major bank has outsourced its broker-dealer business.

Zions Bancorp., a $57 billion bank holding company based in Salt Lake City, Utah, has selected LPL Financial as its third-party broker-dealer, LPL announced in a press release Thursday.

The move reflects a broader trend in running bank wealth management businesses, Rob Comfort, LPL's executive vice president of Business Consulting for Institution Services, said in an interview at BISA's 2015 annual convention. As regulatory requirements and technology costs continue to rise, banks that once operated their brokerage and wealth management units are now considering outsourcing the business, Comfort said.

Indeed, Zions joins Bancorp South, First Merit Bank, First Star Bank and The Bank of Tampa, which outsourced their wealth and investment services units in 2013 and Regions Bank, which did the same in 2012. That leaves less than 40 bank-owned broker dealers.

According to Comfort, banks with their own broker-dealer units aren't nearly as profitable as those that outsource. Bank-owned broker dealers have an average pre-tax profit margin of 14%, while those that partner with a so-called "third-party marketer" such as LPL post average margins of 24%, he said.

Zions chose LPL from among several candidates, with technology being a key factor in its decision, LPL said in the announcement. The bank also considered factors such as client experience, compliance, products and services, advisor portal and tools, and finance and accounting.

"We were particularly impressed with LPL's technology, including its mobile capabilities, and the extent of advisor and operational supervision that LPL will provide," Julie Castle, executive vice president of Zions Bancorp and CEO of Zions Capital Advisors, said in a statement. "The resources and skill set of the people we worked with at LPL also distinguished them above other potential partners we met."

The bank focuses on serving the financial planning needs of high-net-worth clients, providing wealth management services under the local names of eight subsidiary banking institutions, including Zions First National Bank (Utah, Idaho, Wyoming), California Bank & Trust, Amegy Corporation (Texas), National Bank of Arizona, Nevada State Bank, Vectra Bank Colorado (Colorado, New Mexico), The Commerce Bank of Washington, and The Commerce Bank of Oregon. It has more than 450 offices across 11 western and southwestern states.

"The decision of Zions to partner with LPL underscores our unique ability to support large, complex wealth management organizations," Andy Kalbaugh, managing director of LPL's Institution Services, said in a statement.

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