Cetera’s LeAnn Rummel on Growth Avenues for Bank Investment Programs

Cetera Financial Institutions’ CEO Sees Opportunities in Insurance Solutions, Holistic Financial Planning, Tailored Offerings and Attracting New Advisors

Julius Buchanan,
Senior Contributing Editor, Wealth Solutions Report

Every competitive industry demands its participants stand out from the crowd to succeed, including the financial advice industry, where broker-dealer representatives, independent FA firms, wirehouses, financial institutions and others compete for clients’ business and wallet share.

Amidst this cacophony of prospecting, bank-based investment programs hold a special niche, with the branding and client base of a familiar hometown bank and the investing capabilities of wealth management. 

With good strategy, bank-based investment programs can capitalize on this unique position and emerge triumphantly from the crowd – but how does a bank formulate and execute a winning growth blueprint?

A Growth-Centric Broker-Dealer for Bank-Based Advisors

LeAnn Rummel, President and CEO, Cetera Financial Institutions

To answer this question, we talked with 30-year industry veteran LeAnn Rummel, President and CEO of Cetera Investment Services (CIS), which includes Cetera Financial Institutions (CFI), the Cetera division focused on the needs of bank and credit union wealth management programs, which serves 518 financial institutions. CIS oversees nearly $75 billion in assets under administration, which is up 13% over 2020 and 20% over 2019.

In 2021, growth across the banks CFI serves topped 28%, and the average financial professional’s growth within those institutions exceeded 29%.

CFI is so serious about growth that they employ Growth Officers to partner financial institutions and advisors with best practices and strategy. 

Ms. Rummel shared her views on insurance solutions, holistic financial planning and the growth opportunities available to bank-based programs and advisors.

WSR: As more members of the baby boomer generation enter retirement and Gen X households flesh out their pre-retirement and estate planning, interest in insurance solutions that protect assets and income are rising. How are bank-based financial advisors uniquely positioned to serve this rising demand? 

What is it worth offering an
Advice-Centric Experience to your clients?

Rummel:  These dynamics are shifting quickly and there are several ways we are addressing the changes. We’re always focused on delivering the Advice-Centric Experience, fostering collaborative relationships based on human engagement in alignment with Cetera’s broader purpose to enable the delivery of best-in-class financial advice to help clients achieve their version of financial wellbeing. 

As part of our new Growth360 program, we help financial professionals capitalize on increased wallet share inherent in holistic planning services. We empower financial professionals to retain clients and increase their satisfaction by quarterbacking the financial planning process, ensuring all needs are considered, alleviating time constraints and helping financial professionals deliver a higher level of service. 

In addition, financial wellness education and tailored solutions are important to clients, especially those planning for retirement. We provide several programs for this, including a customer digital experience that includes a direct-to-consumer life insurance platform, called COVR, and a digital advisory solution with InvestPath. 

Our AdvicePay platform enables a fee-for-service model, which is very popular with younger generations in part due to the fact it resembles a Netflix or Spotify platform that they already use. 

Finally, we are one of only a few financial firms that provide a true client portal allowing end-clients to see their full financial picture. 

WSR: How does Cetera Financial Institutions help bank-based financial advisors integrate insurance solutions and financial planning for their clients?

We uncover more of our customers’ needs and deliver meaningful engagements!

Rummel:  Cetera is uniquely positioned to help bank-based financial professionals offer fully integrated insurance and financial planning solutions to clients. Putting the Advice-Centric Experience into action, AdviceWorks is an easy-to-use digital platform that helps clients reach their goals and deepen relationships, giving financial professionals and clients access to clients’ personalized financial profiles and collaboration tools. 

Barriers? Worry no more!

We also imbedded and fully integrated MoneyGuide Pro in both the advisor and client AdviceWorks portals, which provides easy access to begin the collaborative financial planning process, including the insurance needs of clients.

Finally, we provide a network of point-of-sale insurance consultants across the country. 

We based these programs and resources on a holistic financial planning approach designed to remove barriers for financial institutions, advisors and their clients. 

WSR: What are the biggest opportunities and challenges that CFI sees in the coming 12-24 months at the intersection of insurance and wealth management for bank investment programs

Rummel:  M&A is alive and well in our industry, which presents challenges as well as opportunities, including the chance to partner with larger banks as they consider and select outsourcing options. 

We made great strides in helping financial institutions grow their revenue, and there’s a significant market opportunity this year and next for financial institutions to grow their overall wallet share with their existing client base as well as continue to grow their advisory and recurring revenue. 

Technology revolutionizes the way
we interact with our clients.

There’s also an opportunity for the entire industry to address the looming advice gap, as more advisors leave the profession than join it, through mentorship programs, diversity and inclusion and bringing younger advisors into the industry to fill the advice gap and ensure that client needs are met for the next generation and beyond. 

Finally, technology and human connections – and blending those successfully – are key to maximizing the client and advisor experience. 

Julius Buchanan, Senior Contributing Editor at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at jbuchanan@wealthsolutionsreport.com

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