LaSalle St launches fund and annuity direct help desk
LaSalle St, a family of independent wealth management firms encompassing independent broker-dealer and registered investment adviser (RIA) platforms, has launched a new Fund and Annuity Direct Help Desk.
The Fund and Annuity Direct Help Desk has been formed by LaSalle St to challenge prevailing industry practices of actively encouraging financial advisors to migrate client assets that are held directly by insurance companies and mutual funds.
Mark Contey, Senior Vice President of Business Development for LaSalle St, says: “We launched our new Fund and Annuity Direct Help Desk in direct response to rising pressure that financial advisors across the industry are facing from their broker-dealers and corporate RIAs to migrate client assets held directly by mutual funds and insurance companies onto their firm’s platforms. While firms will tell advisors this is for compliance and supervisory reasons, this is all too frequently about bringing more assets aboard to increase broker-dealer and RIA platform fees. As our new Help Desk proves, there are ways for advisors to obtain the supervision they need on assets held directly at insurance and mutual fund companies, without having to migrate such assets to a broker-dealer platform, pay extra for doing so, and potentially have to pass the increased costs onto their clients.”
The newly-launched Help Desk support LaSalle St.’s financial advisors with overseeing clients assets that are held off-platform instead of with the firm’s broker-dealer or RIA platforms. The unique approach to versatile and solutions-focused compliance supervision comes free of charge for affiliated financial advisors, and by extension, their clients.
LaSalle St has equipped its new Help Desk with highly responsive experts who stand ready to answer advisor’s most pertinent questions about mutual funds and variable annuities available to clients, including third-party product features, fees associated with them, record-keeping data, and best practices on adhering to FINRA and SEC regulations.
Nearly half of the assets overseen by financial advisors affiliated with LaSalle St. are held off-platform. The new Fund and Annuity Direct Help Desk has been established to provide them with enhanced guidance on issues including:
• Third-Party Products: Clients may need financial advisors for any number of mutual funds and annuities, each with their own product features that advisors must evaluate to determine how they may impact client portfolios. For mutual funds, the Help Desk can address factors such as underlying holdings, investment strategies, risk parameters, ratings and management teams. For annuities, the Help Desk also can address factors such as periodic payouts, death benefits, tax deferrals and rates of return.
• Third-Party Fees: Although LaSalle St. charges no fee for assets held off-platform, advisors still must be aware of specific mutual fund and annuity expenses that clients will pay. For mutual funds, the Help Desk can offer insight on considerations such as the assorted shareholder fees and operating expenses. For annuities, the Help Desk can offer insights on considerations such as surrender and risk charges as well as administrative and underlying fund expenses.
• Record-Keeping: The Help Desk can deliver prompt responses to advisor queries about record-keeping for clients’ directly held mutual funds and annuities. This information, which also may incorporate data about third-party product features and fees, better enables advisors to track account balances, build customized solutions and prepare useful reports for clients about their financial situation.
• Regulations: Advisors overseeing client assets that are held off the broker-dealer’s platform must make sure to follow all relevant rules from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Answers from the Help Desk make it easy for financial advisors affiliated with LaSalle St. to stay compliant while serving clients who may hold a wide range of suitable mutual funds and annuities.
In addition, the Help Desk can provide affiliated advisors with easy-to-understand details about LaSalle St.’s partnership with Docusign to facilitate quick, accurate and secure electronic agreements for clients on their assets held directly at third-party platforms.
Dan Schlesser, LaSalle St's Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, said, “Many firms talk a good game about maximising choice and flexibility for advisors, but we live this principle day in and day out. We built our new Fund and Annuity Direct Help Desk as a result of developing the experience, software and data analytical capabilities to become experts in supporting directly held business through clients’ variable annuity and mutual fund assets. Indeed, rather than forcing advisors to move these assets, we welcome the ‘direct business’ approach. As always, we are prioritising what’s best for our advisors and their clients.”