Posted by on Apr 14, 2017 in Articles & Advice, Blog, Featured, Posts |

By Jason Zweig  |  Apr. 11, 2017 11:32 am ET

Image credit: Gerard David, “The Annunciation” (1506), The Metropolitan Museum of Art




LPL Financial Holdings, the Boston-based independent brokerage, is moving to prevent its affiliated financial advisers from claiming they are “conflict free.”

On Monday LPL removed those words from its web site following a story in The Wall Street Journal showing that some advisory firms claim to be “conflict free” on their public websites even though they also list numerous potential conflicts in their disclosures to government regulators.

LPL also asked its advisers to review their websites “for any use of that language and address the concerns that have been raised,” said a spokeswoman for the firm.

LPL’s regulatory filings disclose several conflicts, yet a Journal analysis found that the websites of approximately 70 LPL advisers asserted they were conflict free. As of last week LPL’s own website said the firm’s “objective research” enabled advisers to “provide conflict-free advice and guidance.”

“Transparency and clarity in disclosures is of utmost importance to LPL,” the firm said in an emailed statement. “We appreciate being made aware when language that is being used to describe our business could potentially be unclear to investors. We are taking steps to ensure that the websites reflect clear and appropriate language.”

One adviser who uses LPL’s brokerage and advisory services said on Monday that the Journal article prompted him to read every page on his website, where he found to his “horror” that his own firm was claiming to be conflict free. He immediately deleted that wording, which his firm had taken years ago directly from a brochure supplied by LPL Financial, he said.

The LPL spokeswoman said that “historically, the phrase ‘conflict-free advice’ was used at LPL and provided to advisers.” She added that the firm has “made an effort to cease using this language in new marketing and communication materials.”

LPL isn’t the only firm whose advisers claim to be “conflict free.” Advisers affiliated with Waltham, Mass.-based Commonwealth Financial Network also use that language on their websites. The wording is meant to convey that the advisers are free to make recommendations “they believe are in each client’s best interest, without any pressure or influence from Commonwealth,” said Paul Tolley, chief compliance officer, in a statement. “The term is not intended to suggest that Commonwealth advisers do not have conflicts.”


Source:, MoneyBeat blog,