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LPL Amends VA Contracts in Light of Ohio National Annuity Debacle

January 28, 2019

LPL Financial has taken steps to ensure advisors on its network don’t suffer the same fate as brokers who can no longer receive trailing commissions on annuities from Ohio National Financial Services, according to news reports.

In September, the insurer announced that it would stop paying trailing commissions on its variable annuities, effective December. Lance Browning, an LPL broker, brought a class action against the firm in November, as reported.

But LPL has now amended contracts with all 15 insurance companies whose variable annuities are sold by its brokers, InvestmentNews writes. LPL informed its more than 16,000 advisors last week that it has renegotiated the contracts in light of Ohio National’s "recent unfortunate business decisions,” according to a memo signed by Rob Pettman, executive vice president of products and platform management cited by the publication.

"This was a serious violation of trust and one that has the potential to impact the industry as a whole," he tells InvestmentNews. "There’s a lot of nervousness about this being precedent-setting, and we thought it was important to ease advisers’ concerns."

Advisors stand to lose thousands of dollars as a result of Ohio National’s decision, according to the publication. Browning, for example, could lose $89,000 per year, InvestmentNews writes. The abrupt decision could also cost broker-dealers dearly: in the third quarter, 49% of LPL’s $144 million in revenue from trailing commissions came from variable annuities, according to the publication. It’s unclear how much of those commissions are tied to annuities from Ohio National, InvestmentNews writes.

Other brokerage firms have taken legal action against Ohio National. The insurer is facing at least nine lawsuits, including from UBS, RBC Capital Markets and LaSalle Street Financial, as reported.

LPL, however, hasn’t filed a suit against the insurer, InvestmentNews writes. Pettman tells the publication that a “material” amount of trailing commissions aren’t affected by Ohio National’s move and could be endangered if LPL were to take legal action against the insurer.

By Alex Padalka
  • To read the InvestmentNews article cited in this story, click here.