Mark Casady had a front row seat on the massive changes hitting our industry over the past 15 years of his tenure at LPL. Now that he's "retired," we discuss his career and the lessons he learned. During his 30-plus years in financial services, Mark likes to think his job was to be a classic "change agent." As chairman of the board and CEO for LPL Financial, Mark led the company through its IPO and grew it into the fifth largest brokerage firm in the United States. Today, you might say Mark is "retired," but he prefers to think he's in the middle of "Life 2.0," which includes working as General Partner and Advisory Board Chairman for Vestigo Ventures, a fintech-focused venture capital firm.
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1. To build a successful company, focus on delighting your customers. "It's about delivering delight in anything you do. So whether it's the office receptionist when clients or prospects walk in the door, or whether it's the annual meetings to review financial issues for the individual, what your client walks away with is just absolute engagement and delight."
2. Distinguish your firm by having client conversations at the intersection of money and meaning. "At the end of the day, if you're just going to talk to me about my portfolio, I can talk to lots of people about that. And I can probably find places that are less expensive. But if you talk to me about what money means to me, and why money is important to me, and how I think about charitable choices or choices for my children, that matters a lot more. Now you're engaged in the psychology of money and I personally think that that's the way to build an enduring franchise. Really great client support where you delight the client in the interactions you have, combined with a meaningful discussion of what money means to that person and that family -- now you are going to be completely in the dynamics of that person's mind whenever they think of financial matters. Which is, of course, what you're after as an advisor."
3. Don't let external expectations corner you into working in a capacity that is not true to your nature. "Be very true to your nature and the things that you're passionate about. You have to decide, do I have the skills to be a leader? But more importantly, do you have the passion to be the leader of the enterprise? Or is my passion helping individual clients succeed in their financial goals? So be true to yourself, about what your passion is. The good news is you own the company. So you can hire anybody you want to run it, if that's your choice. Or you can hire somebody else to be the advisor if you wanted to run the company yourself."
4. No client wants to be scaled, so be careful how you "scale your business." "It's easy to love scale. The guy that ran LPL made sure we got to scale. But remember, big firms start from scale. And even when we were 16th largest, we were still the largest IBD in the marketplace. So we may have been small in the overall market, but we were big within our category. And then you, as an advisor, might look at it and say, 'I'm a $300 million advisor and I want to get to a billion.' That's the same thing. It's a form of scale and a form of institutionalization of your business that's important. Or you might be a $10 billion RIA and you want to get to $20 billion. They're all forms of the same thing, which is scale and being able to take your cost across a larger asset phase."
5. Be clear on why you do what you do. "It never was important to me to be the CEO in the sense of the power that it represents. That was never the part that really interests me. What I did it for was really two things. One was I loved seeing people that I worked with doing things they could never imagine doing. And the second thing that always motivated me was, you can create employment in which people can take home a good salary. They can buy a house, they can have kids, they can do whatever's important to them. It's never been necessarily about the power, although I enjoyed it. It's never been about the influence that you had, although I liked it. But for me it was about those two things that motivated me. So I can do that in this life, just in a different way than I did in the last one."
- Vestigo Ventures Visit Mark and his team online.
- "Everybody Lies" by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz Mark recommends this book about "what the vast amounts of information now instantly available to us reveals about ourselves and our world—provided we ask the right questions."
- Values Clarification Toolkit Click here to download this FREE tool and start living your values.
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