LPL Financial Holdings
LPL Financial Holdings Inc. (Form: 10-K, Received: 02/25/2016 17:27:34)



UNITED STATES SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
Form 10-K
x
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 or 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
 
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2015
or
o
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 or 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
 
For the transition period from ________ to

Commission file number 001-34963

LPL Financial Holdings Inc.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
Delaware
20-3717839
(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)
(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)

75 State Street, Boston, MA 02109
(Address of principal executive offices; including zip code)

617-423-3644
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of Each Class
Name of Each Exchange on Which Registered
Common Stock — $.001 par value per share
NASDAQ Global Select Market

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:
None

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.  Yes  x      No  o

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Exchange Act.  Yes  o      No  x

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.  Yes  x      No  o

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files).  Yes  x      No  o

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K (§ 229.405 of this chapter) is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K.   o

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer” and “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):
   Large accelerated filer x
Accelerated filer o
Non-accelerated filer o
Smaller reporting company o
 
 
(Do not check if a smaller reporting company)
 
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). Yes  o      No  x

As of June 30, 2015, the aggregate market value of the voting stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant was $3.8 billion . For purposes of this information, the outstanding shares of Common Stock owned by directors and executive officers of the registrant were deemed to be shares of the voting stock held by affiliates.

The number of shares of common stock, par value $0.001 per share, outstanding as of February 22, 2016 was 88,939,376 .

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the definitive Proxy Statement to be delivered to stockholders in connection with the Annual Meeting of Stockholders are incorporated by reference into Part III.




TABLE OF CONTENTS

 
 
Page
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
SIGNATURES     



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WHERE YOU CAN FIND MORE INFORMATION
We file annual, quarterly, and current reports, proxy statements, and other information required by the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (“Exchange Act”), with the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC"). You may read and copy any document we file with the SEC at the SEC’s public reference room located at 100 F Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20549, U.S.A. Please call the SEC at 1-800-SEC-0330 for further information on the public reference room. Our SEC filings are also available to the public from the SEC’s internet site at http://www.sec.gov .
On our internet site, http://www.lpl.com , we post the following filings as soon as reasonably practicable after they are electronically filed with or furnished to the SEC: our annual reports on Form 10-K, our quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, our proxy statements, our current reports on Form 8-K, and any amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Exchange Act. Hard copies of all such filings are available free of charge by request via email ( investor.relations@lpl.com ), telephone (617) 897-4574, or mail (LPL Financial Investor Relations at 75 State Street, 22nd Floor, Boston, MA 02109). The information contained or incorporated on our website is not a part of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
When we use the terms “LPLFH”, “we”, “us”, “our”, and the “Company” we mean LPL Financial Holdings Inc., a Delaware corporation, and its consolidated subsidiaries, taken as a whole, unless the context otherwise indicates.
SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
Statements in Item 7 - “Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and other sections of this Annual Report on Form 10-K regarding the Company's future financial and operating results, growth, business strategies, plans, liquidity, future indebtedness, future share repurchases, and future dividends, including statements regarding future resolution of regulatory matters and related costs, income projections based on changes in interest rates, and projected savings and anticipated improvements to the Company's operating model, services, and technology as a result of its initiatives and programs, as well as any other statements that are not related to present facts or current conditions or that are not purely historical, constitute forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are based on the Company's historical performance and its plans, estimates, and expectations as of February 25, 2016 . The words “anticipates,” “believes,” “expects,” “may,” “plans,” “predicts,” “will” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements, although not all forward-looking statements contain these identifying words. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees that the future results, plans, intentions, or expectations expressed or implied by the Company will be achieved. Matters subject to forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties, including economic, legislative, regulatory, competitive, and other factors, which may cause actual financial or operating results, levels of activity, or the timing of events, to be materially different than those expressed or implied by forward-looking statements. Important factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include: changes in general economic and financial market conditions, including retail investor sentiment; fluctuations in the value of brokerage and advisory assets; fluctuations in levels of net new advisory assets and the related impact on fee revenue; effects of competition in the financial services industry; changes in the number of the Company's financial advisors and institutions, and their ability to market effectively financial products and services; changes in interest rates and fees payable by banks participating in the Company's cash sweep program, including the Company's success in negotiating agreements with current or additional counterparties; changes in the growth and profitability of the Company’s fee-based business; the effect of current, pending, and future legislation, regulation, and regulatory actions, including the fiduciary rule proposed by the U.S. Department of Labor and disciplinary actions imposed by federal and state securities regulators and self-regulatory organizations; the costs of settling and remediating issues related to pending or future regulatory matters; execution of the Company's capital management plans, including its compliance with the terms of its existing credit agreement; the price, the availability of shares and trading volumes of the Company's common stock, which will affect the timing and size of future share repurchases by the Company; execution of the Company's plans and its success in realizing the expense savings and service improvements and efficiencies expected to result from its initiatives and programs, particularly its expense plans and technological initiatives; the Company's success in negotiating and developing commercial arrangements with third-party service providers; the performance of third-party service providers on which the Company relies; the Company's ability to control operating risks, information technology systems risks, cybersecurity risks, and sourcing risks; and the other factors set forth in Part I, Item 1A - “Risk Factors”. Except as required by law, the Company specifically disclaims any obligation to update any forward-looking statements as a result of developments occurring after the date of this annual report, even if its estimates change, and you should not rely on statements contained herein as representing the Company's views as of any date subsequent to the date of this annual report.

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PART I

Item 1.  Business
General Corporate Overview
We are a leader in the retail financial advice market, the nation's largest independent broker-dealer (based on total revenues, Financial Planning magazine June 1996-2015), a top custodian for registered investment advisors ("RIAs"), and a leading independent consultant to retirement plans. We provide an integrated platform of brokerage and investment advisory services to more than 14,000 independent financial advisors (our "advisors"), including financial advisors at more than 700 financial institutions across the country, enabling them to provide their retail investors ("clients") with objective financial advice through a lower conflict model. We also support over 4,200 financial advisors who are affiliated and licensed with insurance companies that use our customized clearing services, advisory platforms, and technology solutions.
Through our advisors, we are one of the largest distributors of financial products and services in the United States, and are one of the top five firms based on the number of advisors in the United States.
We believe there is a fundamental need for independent financial advice in America. We believe investors achieve better outcomes when working with a financial advisor. We strive to make it easy for financial advisors to do what is best for their clients, while protecting advisors and investors and promoting independence and choice through access to a wide range of diligently evaluated non-proprietary products. This is the sole focus of our business.
Our mission is to enable our advisors to focus on what they do best—create the personal, long-term relationships that are the foundation for turning life’s aspirations into financial realities. Our differentiator is the combination of our capabilities across research, technology, risk management, and practice management, which together exceed any individual competitor’s offering. All of these are delivered in an environment unencumbered by conflicts from product manufacturing, underwriting, or market-making.
We began operations through LPL Financial LLC ("LPL Financial"), our broker-dealer subsidiary, in 1989. LPL Financial Holdings Inc., which is the parent company of our collective businesses, was incorporated in Delaware in 2005. LPL Financial is a clearing broker-dealer and an investment advisor that primarily transacts business as an agent for our advisors on behalf of their clients by providing access to a broad array of financial products and services. Through our subsidiary The Private Trust Company, N.A. ("PTC"), we offer trust administration, investment management oversight and Individual Retirement Account ("IRA") custodial services for estates and families. Our subsidiary, Independent Advisers Group Corporation (“IAG”), offers an investment advisory solution to insurance companies to support their financial advisors who are licensed with them. Our subsidiary, LPL Insurance Associates, Inc., ("LPLIA"), operates as a brokerage general agency that offers life, long-term care, and disability insurance sales and services.
Our Business
Our Advisor Relationships
Our business is dedicated exclusively to our advisors; we are not a market-maker nor do we offer investment banking or underwriting services. We offer no proprietary products of our own. Because we do not offer proprietary products, we enable the independent financial advisors, banks, and credit unions that we support to offer their clients lower-conflict advice.
We work alongside advisors to navigate complex market and regulatory environments and strive to empower them to create the best outcomes for investors. In addition, we make meaningful investments in technology and services to support the growth, productivity, and efficiency of advisors across a broad spectrum of business models as their practices evolve. LPL advisors are part of a community of diverse, entrepreneurial financial services professionals from whom they can learn and grow.
We believe we offer a compelling economic value proposition to independent advisors, which is a key factor in our ability to attract and retain advisors and their practices. The independent channels pay advisors a greater share of brokerage commissions and advisory fees than the captive channels — generally 80-90% compared to 30-50%. Through our scale and operating efficiencies, we are able to offer our advisors what we believe to be the highest average payout ratios among the five largest U.S. broker-dealers, ranked by number of advisors.
Furthermore, we believe that our technology and service platforms enable our advisors to operate their practices with a greater focus on serving investors while generating revenue opportunities and at a lower cost than

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other independent advisors. As a result, we believe that our advisors who own practices earn more pre-tax profit than practice owners affiliated with other independent brokerage firms. Finally, as business owners, our independent financial advisors, unlike captive advisors, also have the opportunity to build equity in their own businesses.
Our advisors build long-term relationships with their clients in communities across the U.S. by guiding them through the complexities of investment decisions, retirement solutions, financial planning, and wealth-management. Our advisors support approximately 4.6 million client accounts. Our services are designed to support the evolution of our advisors’ businesses over time and to adapt as our advisors' needs change.
Our advisors average over 15 years of industry experience, which allows us to focus on supporting and enhancing our advisors’ businesses without needing to provide basic training or subsidizing advisors who are new to the industry. Our flexible business platform allows our advisors to choose the most appropriate business model to support their clients, whether they conduct brokerage business, offer brokerage and fee-based services on our corporate RIA platforms, or provide fee-based services through their own RIA practices.
The majority of our advisors are entrepreneurial independent contractors who are primarily located in rural and suburban areas and as such are viewed as local providers of independent advice. Many of our advisors operate under their own business name, and we may assist these advisors with their own branding, marketing and promotion, and regulatory review.
Advisors licensed with LPL Financial as registered representatives and as investment advisory representatives are able to conduct both commission-based business on our brokerage platform and fee-based business on our corporate RIA platform. In order to be licensed with LPL Financial, advisors must be approved through our assessment process, which includes a thorough review of each advisor’s education, experience, and credit and compliance history. Approved advisors become registered with LPL Financial and enter into a representative agreement that establishes the duties and responsibilities of each party. Pursuant to the representative agreement, each advisor makes a series of representations, including that the advisor will disclose to all clients and prospective clients that the advisor is acting as LPL Financial's registered representative or investment advisory representative, that all orders for securities will be placed through LPL Financial, that the advisor will sell only products that LPL Financial has approved, and that the advisor will comply with LPL Financial policies and procedures as well as securities rules and regulations. These advisors also agree not to engage in any outside business activity without prior approval from us and not to act in competition with us.
LPL Financial also supports over 375 stand-alone RIA firms ("Hybrid RIAs") with over 3,900 advisors who conduct their advisory business through these separate entities, rather than through LPL Financial. Hybrid RIAs operate pursuant to the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended (the "Advisers Act") or their respective states' investment advisory licensing rules. These Hybrid RIAs engage us for technology, clearing, and custody services, as well as access to certain of our investment platforms. Advisors associated with Hybrid RIAs retain 100% of their advisory fees. In return, we charge separate fees for custody, trading, administrative, and support services. In addition, most financial advisors associated with Hybrid RIAs carry their brokerage license with LPL Financial and access our fully-integrated brokerage platform under standard terms, although some financial advisors associated with Hybrid RIAs do not carry a brokerage license with us.
We believe we are the market leader in providing support to over 2,200 financial advisors at approximately 700 banks and credit unions nationwide. For these institutions, the core capabilities of which may not include investment and financial planning services, or that find the technology, infrastructure, and regulatory requirements of supporting such services to be cost-prohibitive, we provide their financial advisors with the infrastructure and services they need to be successful, allowing the institutions to focus more energy and capital on their core businesses.
A subset of our advisors provides advice and serves group retirement plans primarily for small and mid-size businesses. These advisors serve over 32,300 retirement plans representing $83.0 billion in retirement plan assets custodied at various custodians. LPL Financial provides these advisors with marketing tools and technology capabilities that are designed for retirement solutions.
We also provide support to approximately 4,200 additional financial advisors who are affiliated and licensed with insurance companies. These arrangements allow us to provide outsourced customized clearing, advisory platforms, and technology solutions that enable the financial advisors at these insurance companies to offer a breadth of services to their client base in an efficient manner.

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Our Value Proposition
The core of our business is dedicated to meeting the evolving needs of our advisors and providing the platform and tools to grow and enhance the profitability of their businesses. We are dedicated to continuously improving the processes, systems, and resources we leverage to meet these needs.
We support our advisors by providing front-, middle-, and back-office solutions through our distinct value proposition: integrated technology solutions, comprehensive clearing and compliance services, consultive practice management programs and training, and independent research. The comprehensive and increasingly automated nature of our offering enables our advisors to focus on their clients while successfully and efficiently managing the complexities of running their own practice.
Integrated Technology Solutions
We provide our technology and service to advisors through an integrated technology platform that is server-based and web-accessible. Our technology offerings are designed to permit our advisors to effectively manage all critical aspects of their businesses in an efficient manner while remaining responsive to their clients’ needs. We continue to automate time-consuming processes, such as account opening and management, document imaging, transaction execution, and account rebalancing, in an effort to improve our advisors' efficiency and accuracy.
Comprehensive Clearing and Compliance Services
We provide custody and clearing services for the majority of our advisors’ transactions, providing a simplified and streamlined advisor experience and expedited processing capabilities. Our self-clearing platform enables us to better control client data, more efficiently process and report trades, facilitate platform development, reduce costs, and ultimately enhance the service experience for our advisors and their clients. Our self-clearing platform also enables us to serve a wider range of advisors, including Hybrid RIAs and their associated advisors.
We continue to make substantial investments in our compliance function to provide our advisors with a strong framework through which to understand and operate within regulatory guidelines, as well as guidelines that we establish. Protecting the best interests of investors and our affiliated advisors is of utmost importance to us. As the financial industry and regulatory environment evolve and become more complex, we remain devoted to serving our clients ethically and exceedingly well. We have made a long-term commitment to enhancing our risk management and compliance structure. Our technology-based compliance and risk management tools further enhance the overall effectiveness and scalability of our control environment.
Our team of risk and compliance employees assist our advisors through:
training and advising advisors on new products, new regulatory guidelines, compliance and risk management tools, security policies and procedures, anti-money laundering, and best practices;
supervising sales practice activities and facilitating the oversight of activities for branch managers;
conducting technology-enabled surveillance of trading activities and sales practices;
for advisors on our corporate RIA platform, overseeing and monitoring of registered investment advisory activities; and
inspecting branch offices and advising on how to strengthen compliance procedures.
Practice Management Programs and Training
Our practice management programs are designed to help financial advisors in independent practices and financial institutions, as well as all levels of financial institution leadership, enhance and grow their businesses. Our experience gives us the ability to benchmark the best practices of successful advisors and develop customized recommendations to meet the specific needs of an advisor’s business and market, and our scale allows us to dedicate a team of experienced professionals to this effort. Our practice management and training services include:
personalized business consulting that helps eligible advisors and program leadership enhance the value and operational efficiency of their businesses;
advisory and brokerage consulting and financial planning to support advisors in growing their businesses through our broad range of products and fee-based offerings, as well as wealth management services to assist advisors serving high-net-worth clients with comprehensive estate, tax, philanthropic, and financial planning processes;
marketing strategies, including campaign templates, to enable advisors to build awareness of their services and capitalize on opportunities in their local markets;

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succession planning and an advisor loan program for advisors looking to either sell their own or buy another practice;
transition services to help advisors establish independent practices and migrate client accounts to us; and
in-person and virtual training and educational programs on topics including technology, use of advisory platforms, and business development.
Independent Research
We provide our advisors with integrated access to comprehensive research on a broad range of investments and market analysis on macro-economic events, capital markets assumptions, and strategic and tactical asset allocation. Our research team provides advice that is designed to empower our advisors to provide their clients with thoughtful advice in a timely manner, including the creation of discretionary portfolios for which we serve as a portfolio manager that are available through our turnkey advisory asset management platforms. Our research team actively works with our product due diligence group to effectively scrutinize the financial products offered through our platform. This includes third-party asset manager search, selection, and monitoring services for both traditional and alternative strategies across all investment access points (ETFs, mutual funds, separately managed accounts, unified managed accounts, and other products and services). Our lack of proprietary products or investment banking services enables us to provide research that remains unbiased and objective.
Our Product and Solution Access
We do not manufacture any financial products. Instead, we provide our advisors with open architecture access to a broad range of commission, fee-based, cash, and money market products and services. Our product due diligence group conducts diligence on substantially all of our product offerings. Our platform provides access to approximately 795 product providers that offer the following product lines:
• Insurance Based Products
 
• Alternative Investments
• Structured Products
 
• Mutual Funds
• Separately Managed Accounts
 
• Exchange Traded Products
• Unit Investment Trusts
 
• Retirement Plan Products
• Annuities
 
 
The sales and administration of these products are facilitated through our technology solutions that allow our advisors to access client accounts, product information, asset allocation models, investment recommendations, and economic insight as well as to perform trade execution.
Commission-Based Products
Commission-based products are those for which we and our advisors receive an upfront commission and, for certain products, a trailing commission, or a mark-up or mark-down. Our brokerage offerings include variable and fixed annuities, mutual funds, equities, alternative investments such as non-traded real estate investment trusts and business development companies, retirement and 529 education savings plans, fixed income, and insurance. As of December 31, 2015 , the total assets in our commission-based products were $288.4 billion .
Fee-Based Advisory Platforms and Support
LPL Financial has various fee-based advisory platforms that provide centrally managed or customized solutions from which advisors can choose to meet the investment needs of their mass affluent clients and high-net-worth clients. The fee structure enables our advisors to provide their clients with higher levels of service, while establishing a recurring revenue stream for the advisor and for us. Our fee-based platforms provide access to no-load/load-waived mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, stocks, bonds, conservative option strategies, unit investment trusts, and institutional money managers and no-load multi-manager variable annuities. As of December 31, 2015 , the total advisory assets under custody in these platforms were $187.2 billion .
Cash Sweep Programs
We assist our advisors in managing their clients’ cash balances through two primary cash sweep programs depending on account type: a money market sweep vehicle involving money market fund providers and an insured bank deposit sweep vehicle. As of December 31, 2015 , the total assets in our cash sweep programs, which are held within brokerage and advisory accounts, were approximately $29.0 billion , with $20.9 billion in a bank deposit sweep vehicle and $8.1 billion held in a money market sweep vehicle.

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Retirement Services
We offer retirement solutions for commission- and fee-based services that allow advisors to provide brokerage services, consultation, and advice to plan sponsors using LPL Financial. Our advisors, whether through LPL Financial or through a Hybrid RIA, serve over 32,300 retirement plans representing at least $83.0 billion in retirement plan assets. These retirement plan assets are custodied with LPL Financial or various third-party providers of retirement plan administrative services that provide us with direct reporting feeds. There are additional retirement plan assets supported by our advisors that are custodied with third-party providers that do not provide reporting feeds to us. We estimate there are over 40,000 retirement plans served by our advisors with total retirement plan assets of approximately $118.0 billion . We earn revenue from retirement plan assets that are custodied with LPL Financial and from those that are not custodied with LPL Financial, but which are serviced by advisors through LPL Financial. Accordingly, only retirement plan assets that are custodied with LPL Financial are included in our reported advisory and brokerage assets.
Other Services
We provide a number of tools and services that enable advisors to maintain and grow their practices. Through our subsidiary PTC, we provide custodial services to trusts for estates and families. Under our unique model, an advisor may provide a trust with investment management services, while administrative services for the trust are provided by PTC.

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Our Financial Model
Our overall financial performance is a function of the following dynamics of our business:
Our revenues stem from diverse sources, including advisor-generated commission and advisory fees, as well as other asset-based fees from product manufacturers, omnibus, networking services, cash sweep balances, and transaction and other fees for other ancillary services that we provide. Revenues are not concentrated by advisor, product, or geography. For the year ended December 31, 2015 , no single relationship with our independent advisor practices, banks, credit unions, or insurance companies accounted for more than 4% of our net revenues, and no single advisor accounted for more than 1% of our net revenues.
The largest variable component of our cost base, advisor payout percentages, is directly linked to revenues generated by our advisors.
A portion of our revenues, such as software licensing and account and client fees, are not correlated with the equity financial markets.
Our operating model is scalable and is capable of delivering expanding profit margins over time.
We have been able to operate with low capital expenditures and limited capital requirements, and as a result have generated substantial free cash flow, which we have committed to investing in our business as well as returning value to shareholders.
The majority of our revenue base is recurring in nature, with approximately 72% recurring revenue in 2015 .

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Our Competitive Strengths
Market Leadership Position and Significant Scale
We are the established leader in the independent advisor market, which is our core business focus. We use our scale and position as an industry leader to champion the independent business model and the rights of our advisors.
Our scale enables us to benefit from the following dynamics:
Continual Reinvestment We actively reinvest in our comprehensive technology platform and practice management support, which further improves the productivity of our advisors.
Economies of Scale As one of the largest distributors of financial products in the United States, we have been able to obtain attractive economics from product manufacturers.
Payout Ratios to Advisors Among the five largest U.S. broker-dealers by number of advisors, we believe that we offer the highest average payout ratios to our advisors.
The combination of our ability to reinvest in our business and maintain highly competitive payout ratios has enabled us to attract and retain advisors. This, in turn, has driven our growth and led to a continuous cycle of reinvestment that reinforces our established scale advantage.
Unique Value Proposition
Our differentiator is the combination of our capabilities across research, technology, risk management, and practice management, which together exceed any individual competitor’s offering. LPL makes meaningful investments to support the growth, productivity, and efficiency of advisors across a broad spectrum of models as their practices evolve. Our focus is working alongside advisors to navigate complex environments in order to create the best outcomes for investors.
We believe we offer a unique and dedicated value proposition to independent financial advisors and financial institutions. This value proposition is built upon the delivery of our services through our scale, independence, and integrated technology, the sum of which we believe is not replicated in the industry. As a result we believe that we do not have any direct competitors that offer our unique business model at the scale at which we offer it. For example, because we do not have any proprietary manufactured financial products, we do not view firms that manufacture asset management products and other financial products as direct competitors.
We provide comprehensive solutions to financial institutions, such as regional banks, credit unions, and insurers that seek to provide a broad array of services for their clients. We believe many institutions find the technology, infrastructure, and regulatory requirements associated with delivering financial advice to be cost-prohibitive. The solutions we provide enable financial advisors at these institutions to deliver their services on a cost-effective basis.
Flexibility of Our Business Model
Our business model allows our advisors the freedom to choose how they conduct their business, subject to certain regulatory parameters, which has helped us attract and retain advisors from multiple channels, including wirehouses, regional broker-dealers, and other independent broker-dealers. Our accommodating platform serves a variety of independent advisor business models, including independent financial advisors and Hybrid RIAs. The flexibility of our business model makes it easy for our advisors to transition among the independent advisor business models and product mix as their business evolves and preferences change within the market. Our own business model provides advisors with a multitude of customizable service and technology offerings that allow them to increase their efficiency, focus on their clients and grow their practice.
Ability to Serve Approximately 88% of Retail Assets
Our historic focus has been on advisors who serve the mass-affluent market and we believe there continues to be an attractive opportunity in this market. Although we have grown through our focus in this area, the flexibility of our platform allows us to expand our breadth of services to better support the high-net-worth market. As of December 31, 2015 , our advisors supported accounts with more than $1   million in assets that in the aggregate represented $90.0   billion in advisory and brokerage assets,which is 18.9% of our total assets custodied. Our array of integrated technology and services is capable of supporting advisors with significant production and can compete directly with wirehouses and custodians. We are able to support our advisors to meet the needs of their mass market clients up through the high-net-worth market, which, according to Cerulli Associates, accounts for approximately 88% of retail assets.

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Our Sources of Growth
We believe we can increase our revenue and profitability by benefiting from favorable industry trends and by executing strategies to accelerate our growth beyond that of the broader markets in which we operate.
Favorable Industry Trends
Growth in Investable Assets
According to Cerulli Associates, over the past five years, assets serviced in the market segments in the United States that we address grew 8.9% per year, while retirement assets are expected to grow 5.1% per year over the next five years (in part due to the retirement of the baby boomer generation and the resulting assets that are projected to flow out of retirement plans and into individual retirement accounts). In addition, IRA assets are projected to grow from $8.0 trillion as of 2015 to $10.7 trillion by 2019. Along with to the retirement of the baby boomer generation, there is a general need in the United States for greater and smarter retirement savings as well as increased regulatory pressures on 401(k) plan sponsors.
(1)
The Cerulli Report: The State of U.S. Retail and Institutional Asset Management 2015.
(2)
The Cerulli Report: U.S. Retirement Markets 2015.
Increasing Demand for Independent Financial Advice
Retail investors, particularly in the mass-affluent market, are increasingly seeking financial advice from independent sources. We are highly focused on helping independent advisors meet the needs of the mass-affluent market, which constitutes a significant and underserved portion of investable assets.
Advisor Migration to Independence
Independent channels continue to gain market share from captive channels. We believe that we are not just a beneficiary of this secular shift, but an active catalyst in the movement to independence. There is an increased shift towards advisors seeking complete independence by forming an RIA firm and registering directly with the SEC or state securities regulators. However, the clients of these advisors are generally interested in retaining assets in brokerage accounts. This shift has lead to significant growth in the number of advisors associated with Hybrid RIAs.
Macroeconomic Trends
While the current macroeconomic environment has exhibited short-term volatility, we anticipate an appreciation in asset prices and a rise in interest rates over the long term. We expect that our business will benefit from growth in advisory and brokerage assets as well as increasing interest rates.

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Executing Our Growth Strategies
Attracting New Advisors to Our Platform
We intend to grow the number of advisors who are served by our platform — either those who are independent or who are aligned with financial institutions. We have a 4.5% market share of the approximately 309,000 financial advisors in the United States, according to Cerulli Associates, and we believe that we are uniquely positioned to attract seasoned advisors of any practice size and from any of the channels listed below.
Channel
 
Advisors
 
Market Share
Independent Broker-Dealer(1)
 
73,355
 
23.7%
Insurance Broker-Dealer
 
77,107
 
25.0%
Wirehouse
 
46,826
 
15.2%
Regional Broker-Dealer
 
31,953
 
10.3%
RIA(1)
 
30,789
 
10.0%
Bank Broker-Dealer
 
22,742
 
7.3%
Dually registered RIAs(1)
 
26,165
 
8.5%
Total
 
308,937
 
100.0%
___________________
(1) The 26,165 advisors classified as "dually registered RIAs" are advisors who are both licensed through independent broker-dealers and registered as investment advisors.
Increasing Productivity of Existing Advisor Base
We believe that the productivity of our advisors will increase over time as we continue to develop solutions designed to enable them to add new clients, manage more of their clients’ investable assets, and expand their existing practices with additional advisors. We can facilitate these productivity improvements by helping our advisors better manage their practices in an increasingly complex external environment, which we believe will result in assets per advisor growing over time.
Competition
We compete with a variety of financial firms to attract and retain experienced and productive advisors:
Within the independent channel, the industry is highly fragmented, comprised primarily of regional firms that rely on third-party custodians and technology providers to support their operations. Competitors in this space include:
Commonwealth Financial Network;
Cetera Financial Group; and
Cambridge
The captive wirehouse channel tends to consist of large nationwide firms with multiple lines of business that have a focus on the highly competitive high-net-worth investor market. Competitors in this channel include:
Morgan Stanley;
Bank of America Merrill Lynch;
UBS Financial Services Inc.; and
Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC.
Competition for advisors also includes regional firms, such as Edward D. Jones & Co., L.P. and Raymond James Financial Services, Inc.
Independent RIA firms, which are registered with the SEC or though their respective states' investment advisory regulator and not through a broker-dealer, may choose from a number of third-party firms to provide custodial services. Our significant competitors in this space include:
Charles Schwab & Co.;
Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC; and
TD Ameritrade.
Those competitors that do not offer a complete clearing solution for advisors are frequently supported by third-party clearing and custody oriented firms. Pershing LLC, a subsidiary of Bank of New York Mellon, National

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Financial Services LLC, a subsidiary of Fidelity Investments, and J.P. Morgan Clearing Corp., a subsidiary of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., offer custodial services and technology solutions to independent firms and RIAs that are not self-clearing. These clearing firms and their affiliates and other providers also offer an array of service, technology and reporting tools. Albridge Solutions, a subsidiary of Bank of New York Mellon, Advent Software, Inc., Envestnet, Inc., and Morningstar, Inc., provide an array of research, analytics and reporting solutions.
Our advisors compete for clients with financial advisors of brokerage firms, banks, insurance companies, asset management, and investment advisory firms. In addition, they also compete with a number of firms offering direct to investor on-line financial services and discount brokerage services, such as Charles Schwab & Co. and Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC.
Employees
As of December 31, 2015 , we had 3,410 full-time employees. None of our employees is subject to collective bargaining agreements governing their employment with us. We build deep expertise by attracting talented employees from a variety of fields and developing that talent into future leaders of our business and our industry. Our value proposition is delivered by a caring team that is grounded by a decades-old creed, which expresses our commitment to delivering super service to advisors. Our continued growth is dependent, in part, on our ability to be an employer of choice and an organization that recruits and retains talented employees who best fit our culture and business needs. We offer ongoing learning opportunities and programs that empower employees to grow in their professional development and careers. We provide comprehensive compensation and benefits packages, as well as financial education tools to assist our employees as they plan for their future. We give back to our local communities, encourage sustainability in our workplace, and embrace diversity and inclusion to appreciate the unique perspective and value that each of our employees brings based on their personal experiences. Through these initiatives, we work to help all employees be engaged and empowered. Our entrepreneurial heritage, the talent and commitment of our people, and the excellence of our advisors push us to innovate and meet the challenges of the future head on.
Regulation
The financial services industry is subject to extensive regulation by U.S. federal, state, and international government agencies as well as various self-regulatory organizations. We take an active leadership role in the development of the rules and regulations that govern our industry. We have been investing in our compliance functions to monitor our adherence to the numerous legal and regulatory requirements applicable to our business.
Broker-Dealer Regulation
LPL Financial is a broker-dealer registered with the SEC, a member of FINRA and various other self-regulatory organizations, and a participant in various clearing organizations including the Depository Trust Company, the National Securities Clearing Corporation, and the Options Clearing Corporation. LPL Financial is registered as a broker-dealer in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Broker-dealers are subject to rules and regulations covering all aspects of the securities business, including sales and trading practices, public offerings, publication of research reports, use and safekeeping of clients’ funds and securities, capital adequacy, recordkeeping and reporting, and the conduct of directors, officers, and employees. Broker-dealers are also regulated by state securities administrators in those jurisdictions where they do business. Compliance with many of the rules and regulations applicable to us involves a number of risks because rules and regulations are subject to varying interpretations, among other reasons. Regulators make periodic examinations and review annual, monthly, and other reports on our operations, track record, and financial condition. Violations of rules and regulations governing a broker-dealer’s actions could result in censure, penalties and fines, the issuance of cease-and-desist orders, the restriction, suspension, or expulsion from the securities industry of such broker-dealer, its financial advisor(s) or its officers or employees, or other similar adverse consequences. The rules of the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board, which are enforced by the SEC and FINRA, apply to the municipal securities activities of LPL Financial.
Our margin lending is regulated by the Federal Reserve Board’s restrictions on lending in connection with client purchases and short sales of securities, and FINRA rules also require our subsidiaries to impose maintenance requirements based on the value of securities contained in margin accounts. In many cases, our margin policies are more stringent than these rules.

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Significant new rules and regulations continue to arise as a result of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the “Dodd-Frank Act”), which was enacted in July 2010. Provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act that may affect our business include, but are not limited to, the potential implementation of a more stringent fiduciary standard for broker-dealers and the potential establishment of a new self-regulatory organization for investment advisors. Compliance with these provisions would likely result in increased costs. Moreover, to the extent the Dodd-Frank Act affects the operations, financial condition, liquidity, and capital requirements of financial institutions with whom we do business, those institutions may seek to pass on increased costs, reduce their capacity to transact, or otherwise present inefficiencies in their interactions with us. The ultimate impact that the Dodd-Frank Act will have on us, the financial industry, and the economy cannot be known until all applicable regulations called for under the Dodd-Frank Act have been finalized and implemented.
Investment Advisor Regulation
As investment advisors registered with the SEC, our subsidiaries LPL Financial, Fortigent, LLC, and IAG are subject to the requirements of the Advisers Act, and the regulations promulgated thereunder, including examination by the SEC’s staff. Such requirements relate to, among other things, fiduciary duties to clients, performance fees, maintaining an effective compliance program, solicitation arrangements, conflicts of interest, advertising, limitations on agency cross and principal transactions between the advisor and advisory clients, recordkeeping and reporting requirements, disclosure requirements, and general anti-fraud provisions.
The SEC is authorized to institute proceedings and impose sanctions for violations of the Advisers Act, ranging from fines and censure to termination of an investment advisor’s registration. Investment advisors also are subject to certain state securities laws and regulations. Failure to comply with the Advisers Act or other federal and state securities laws and regulations could result in investigations, sanctions, profit disgorgement, fines or other similar consequences.
Retirement Plan Services Regulation
Certain of our subsidiaries, including LPL Financial, PTC, IAG, and LPLIA, are subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended ("ERISA") and Section 4975 of the Internal Revenue Code (the "Code"), and to regulations promulgated under ERISA or the Code, insofar as they provide services with respect to plan clients, or otherwise deal with plan clients that are subject to ERISA or the Code. ERISA imposes certain duties on persons who are "fiduciaries" (as defined in Section 3(21) of ERISA) and prohibits certain transactions involving plans subject to ERISA and fiduciaries or other service providers to such plans. Non-compliance with these provisions may expose an ERISA fiduciary or other service provider to liability under ERISA, which may include monetary penalties as well as equitable remedies for the affected plan. Section 4975 of the Code prohibits certain transactions involving plans (as defined in Section 4975(e)(1), which includes individual retirement accounts and Keogh plans) and service providers, including fiduciaries, to such plans. Section 4975 imposes excise taxes for violations of these prohibitions. The U.S. Department of Labor has issued a proposed rule: "Definition of the Term "Fiduciary"; Conflict of Interest Rule -- Retirement Investment Advice," related to prohibited transaction exemptions, and amendments to certain existing exemptions, that, if adopted, could impose new requirements on our various business offerings, particularly in respect of certain products and services provided in connection with IRAs and retirement plans. As with provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act discussed above, the extent of its effect on us and the broader financial industry cannot be known until a final rule, if any, is adopted. Please consult the Risks Related to Our Regulatory Environment section within Part I, "Item 1A. Risk Factors" for more information about the risks associated with future regulations and their potential impact on our operations.
Commodities and Futures Regulation
LPL Financial is registered as an introducing broker with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) and is a member of the National Futures Association (“NFA”). LPL Financial introduces commodities and futures products to ADM Investor Services, Inc. (“ADM”), and all commodities accounts and related client positions are held by ADM. LPL Financial is regulated by the CFTC and NFA. Violations of the rules of the CFTC and the NFA could result in remedial actions including fines, registration terminations, or revocations of exchange memberships.
Trust Regulation
Through our subsidiary, PTC, we offer trust, investment management oversight and custodial services for estates and families. PTC is chartered as a non-depository national banking association. As a limited purpose national bank, PTC is regulated and regularly examined by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”). PTC files reports with the OCC within 30 days after the conclusion of each calendar quarter. Because the powers of

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PTC are limited to providing fiduciary services and investment advice, it does not have the power or authority to accept deposits or make loans. For this reason, trust assets under PTC’s management are not insured by the FDIC.
Because of its limited purpose, PTC is not a “bank” as defined under the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956. Consequently, neither its immediate parent, PTC Holdings, Inc., nor its ultimate parent, LPLFH, is regulated by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System as a bank holding company. However, PTC is subject to regulation by the OCC and to various laws and regulations enforced by the OCC, such as capital adequacy, change of control restrictions and regulations governing fiduciary duties, conflicts of interest, self-dealing, and anti-money laundering. For example, the Change in Bank Control Act, as implemented by OCC supervisory policy, imposes restrictions on parties who wish to acquire a controlling interest in a limited purpose national bank such as PTC or the holding company of a limited purpose national bank such as LPL Financial Holdings Inc. In general, an acquisition of 10% or more of our common stock, or another acquisition of “control” as defined in OCC regulations, may require OCC approval. These laws and regulations are designed to serve specific bank regulatory and supervisory purposes and are not meant for the protection of PTC, LPL Financial, or their stockholders.
Regulatory Capital
The SEC, FINRA, CFTC, and NFA have stringent rules and regulations with respect to the maintenance of specific levels of net capital by regulated entities. Generally, a broker-dealer’s net capital is calculated as net worth plus qualified subordinated debt less deductions for certain types of assets. The net capital rule under the Exchange Act requires that at least a minimum part of a broker-dealer’s assets be maintained in a relatively liquid form. LPL Financial is also subject to the NFA ' s financial requirements and is required to maintain net capital that is in excess of or equal to the greatest of the NFA's minimum financial requirements. Under these requirements, LPL Financial is currently required to maintain minimum net capital that is in excess of or equal to the minimum net capital calculated and required pursuant to the SEC ' s Uniform Net Capital Rule.
The SEC, FINRA, CFTC, and NFA impose rules that require notification when net capital falls below certain predefined criteria. These broker-dealer capital rules also dictate the ratio of debt to equity in regulatory capital composition, and constrain the ability of a broker-dealer to expand its business under certain circumstances. If a broker-dealer fails to maintain the required net capital, it may be subject to suspension or revocation of registration by the applicable regulatory agency, and suspension or expulsion by these regulators ultimately could lead to the broker-dealer’s liquidation. Additionally, the net capital rule and certain FINRA rules impose requirements that may have the effect of prohibiting a broker-dealer from distributing or withdrawing capital, and that require prior notice to the SEC and FINRA for certain capital withdrawals. LPL Financial, which is subject to net capital rules has been, and currently is, in compliance with those rules and has net capital in excess of the minimum requirements.
Anti-Money Laundering and Sanctions Compliance
The USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 (the “PATRIOT Act”) contains anti-money laundering and financial transparency laws and mandates the implementation of various regulations applicable to broker-dealers, futures commission merchants and other financial services companies. Financial institutions subject to the PATRIOT Act generally must have anti-money laundering procedures in place, monitor for and report suspicious activity, implement specialized employee training programs, designate an anti-money laundering compliance officer, and are audited periodically by an independent party to test the effectiveness of compliance. In addition, sanctions administered by the U.S. Office of Foreign Asset Control prohibit U.S. persons from doing business with blocked persons and entities. We have established policies, procedures, and systems designed to comply with these regulations.
Security and Privacy
Regulatory activity in the areas of privacy and data protection continues to grow worldwide and is generally being driven by the growth of technology and related concerns about the rapid and widespread dissemination and use of information. To the extent they are applicable to us, we must comply with these federal and state information-related laws and regulations, including, for example, those in the United States, such as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, SEC Regulation S-P, the Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970, as amended, and Regulation S-ID.
Financial Information about Geographic Areas
Our revenues for the periods presented were derived from our operations in the United States.

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Trademarks
Access Overlay ® , BranchNet ® , DO IT SMARTER ® , Fortigent ® , LPL ® , LPL Career Match ® , LPL Financial (& Design) ® , LPL Partners Program ® , Manager Access Network ® , Manager Access Select ® , and OMP ® are our registered trademarks. ClientWorks, SponsorWorks, and THE PRIVATE TRUST COMPANY, N.A. (& Design) are among our service marks.
Item 1A.  Risk Factors
Risks Related to Our Business and Industry
We depend on our ability to attract and retain experienced and productive advisors.
We derive a large portion of our revenues from commissions and fees generated by our advisors. Our ability to attract and retain experienced and productive advisors has contributed significantly to our growth and success, and our strategic plan is premised upon continued growth in the number of our advisors and the assets they serve. If we fail to attract new advisors or to retain and motivate our current advisors, replace our advisors who retire, or assist our retiring advisors with transitioning their practices to existing advisors, or if advisor migration away from wirehouses and to independent channels decreases or slows, our business may suffer.
The market for experienced and productive advisors is highly competitive, and we devote significant resources to attracting and retaining the most qualified advisors. In attracting and retaining advisors, we compete directly with a variety of financial institutions such as wirehouses, regional broker-dealers, banks, insurance companies and other independent broker-dealers. If we are not successful in retaining highly qualified advisors, we may not be able to recover the expense involved in attracting and training these individuals. There can be no assurance that we will be successful in our efforts to attract and retain the advisors needed to achieve our growth objectives.
Our financial condition and results of operations may be adversely affected by market fluctuations and other economic factors.
Significant downturns and volatility in equity and other financial markets have had and could continue to have an adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
General economic and market factors can affect our commission and fee revenue. For example, a decrease in market levels can:
reduce new investments by both new and existing clients in financial products that are linked to the equity markets, such as variable life insurance, variable annuities, mutual funds, and managed accounts;
reduce trading activity, thereby affecting our brokerage commissions and our transaction revenue;
reduce the value of advisory and brokerage assets, thereby reducing advisory fee revenue and asset-based fee income and
motivate clients to withdraw funds from their accounts, reducing advisory and brokerage assets, advisory fee revenue, and asset-based fee income.
Other more specific trends may also affect our financial condition and results of operations, including, for example: changes in the mix of products preferred by investors may result in increases or decreases in our fee revenues associated with such products, depending on whether investors gravitate towards or away from such products. The timing of such trends, if any, and their potential impact on our financial condition and results of operations are beyond our control.
In addition, because certain of our expenses are fixed, our ability to reduce them over short periods of time is limited, which could negatively impact our profitability.
Significant interest rate changes could affect our profitability and financial condition.
Our revenues are exposed to interest rate risk primarily from changes in fees payable to us from banks participating in our cash sweep programs, which are based on prevailing interest rates. In the prevailing relatively low interest rate environment, our revenue from our cash sweep programs has declined, and our revenue may decline further due to the expiration of contracts with favorable pricing terms, less favorable terms in future contracts with participants in our cash sweep programs, decreases in interest rates, or clients moving assets out of our cash sweep programs. We may also be limited in the amount we can keep interest rates payable to clients in our cash sweep programs low and still offer a competitive return. A sustained relatively low interest rate

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environment may have a negative impact upon our ability to negotiate contracts with new banks or renegotiate existing contracts on comparable terms with banks participating in our cash sweep programs.
Lack of liquidity or access to capital could impair our business and financial condition.
Liquidity, or ready access to funds, is essential to our business. We expend significant resources investing in our business, particularly with respect to our technology and service platforms. In addition, we must maintain certain levels of required capital. As a result, reduced levels of liquidity could have a significant negative effect on us. Some potential conditions that could negatively affect our liquidity include:
illiquid or volatile markets;
diminished access to debt or capital markets;
unforeseen cash or capital requirements; or
regulatory penalties or fines, or adverse legal settlements or judgments (including, among others, risks associated with auction rate securities).
The capital and credit markets continue to experience varying degrees of volatility and disruption. In some cases, the markets have exerted downward pressure on availability of liquidity and credit capacity for businesses similar to ours. Without sufficient liquidity, we could be required to curtail our operations, and our business would suffer.
Notwithstanding the self-funding nature of our operations, we may sometimes be required to fund timing differences arising from the delayed receipt of client funds associated with the settlement of client transactions in securities markets. These timing differences are funded either with internally generated cash flow or, if needed, with funds drawn under our revolving credit facility, or uncommitted lines of credit at our broker-dealer subsidiary LPL Financial.
In the event current resources are insufficient to satisfy our needs, we may need to rely on financing sources such as bank debt. The availability of additional financing will depend on a variety of factors such as:
market conditions;
the general availability of credit;
the volume of trading activities;
the overall availability of credit to the financial services industry;
our credit ratings and credit capacity; and
the possibility that our lenders could develop a negative perception of our long-or short-term financial prospects if the level of our business activity decreases due to a market downturn. Similarly, our access to funds may be impaired if regulatory authorities or rating organizations take negative actions against us.
Disruptions, uncertainty or volatility in the capital and credit markets may also limit our access to capital required to operate our business. Such market conditions may limit our ability to satisfy statutory capital requirements, generate commission, fee and other market-related revenue to meet liquidity needs and access the capital necessary to grow our business. As such, we may be forced to delay raising capital, issue different types of capital than we would otherwise, less effectively deploy such capital or bear an unattractive cost of capital, which could decrease our profitability and significantly reduce our financial flexibility.
If there is a default under the derivative instruments we use to hedge our foreign currency risk default, we may be exposed to risks we had sought to mitigate.
We, from time to time, use derivative instruments, primarily to hedge our foreign currency risk. In particular, our agreement with a third-party service provider provides for an annual adjustment of the currency exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the Indian rupee. We bear the risk of currency movement at each annual reset date, and the reset rate then applies for the subsequent 12-month period. To mitigate foreign currency risk arising from such annual adjustments, we use derivative financial instruments consisting solely of non-deliverable foreign currency contracts. However, if either we or our counterparties fail to honor our respective obligations under such derivative instruments, we could be subject to the risk of loss and our hedges of the foreign currency risk will be ineffective. That failure could have an adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows that could be material.

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A loss of our marketing relationships with manufacturers of financial products could harm our relationship with our advisors and, in turn, their clients.
We operate on an open architecture product platform offering no proprietary financial products. To help our advisors meet their clients’ needs with suitable investment options, we have relationships with most of the industry-leading providers of financial and insurance products. We have sponsorship agreements with some manufacturers of fixed and variable annuities and mutual funds that, subject to the survival of certain terms and conditions, may be terminated by the manufacturer upon notice. If we lose our relationships with one or more of these manufacturers, our ability to serve our advisors and, in turn, their clients, and our business may be materially adversely affected. As an example, certain variable annuity product sponsors have ceased offering and issuing new variable annuity contracts. If this trend continues, we could experience a loss in the revenue currently generated from the sale of such products. In addition, certain features of such contracts have been eliminated by variable annuity product sponsors. If this trend continues, the attractiveness of these products would be reduced, potentially reducing the revenue we currently generate from the sale of such products.
Our business could be materially adversely affected as a result of the risks associated with acquisitions and investments.
We have made acquisitions and investments in the past and may pursue further acquisitions and investments in the future. These transactions are accompanied by risks. For instance, an acquisition could have a negative effect on our financial and strategic position and reputation or the acquired business could fail to further our strategic goals. Moreover, we may not be able to successfully integrate acquired businesses into ours, and therefore we may not be able to realize the intended benefits from an acquisition. We may have a lack of experience in new markets, products or technologies brought on by the acquisition and we may have an initial dependence on unfamiliar supply or distribution partners. An acquisition may create an impairment of relationships with customers or suppliers of the acquired business or our advisors or suppliers. All of these and other potential risks may serve as a diversion of our management's attention from other business concerns, and any of these factors could have a material adverse effect on our business.
Risks Related to Our Regulatory Environment
Regulatory developments and our failure to comply with regulations could adversely affect our business by increasing our costs and exposure to litigation, affecting our reputation and making our business less profitable.
Our business is subject to extensive U.S. regulation and supervision, including securities and investment advisory services. The securities industry in the United States is subject to extensive regulation under both federal and state laws. Our broker-dealer subsidiary, LPL Financial, is:
registered as a broker-dealer with the SEC, each of the 50 states, and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands;
registered as an investment adviser with the SEC;
a member of FINRA and various other self-regulatory organizations, and a participant in various clearing organizations including the Depository Trust Company, the National Securities Clearing Corporation, and the Options Clearing Corporation; and
regulated by the CFTC with respect to the futures and commodities trading activities it conducts as an introducing broker.
Much of the regulation of broker-dealers has been delegated to self-regulatory organizations (“SROs”). The primary regulators of LPL Financial are FINRA, and for municipal securities, the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board. The CFTC has designated the National Futures Association ("NFA") as LPL Financial’s primary regulator for futures and commodities trading activities.
The SEC, FINRA, CFTC, OCC, various securities and futures exchanges, and other U.S. governmental or regulatory authorities continuously review legislative and regulatory initiatives and may adopt new or revised laws, regulations, or interpretations. There can also be no assurance that other federal or state agencies will not attempt to further regulate our business. These legislative and regulatory initiatives may affect the way in which we conduct our business and may make our business model less profitable.
Our ability to conduct business in the jurisdictions in which we currently operate depends on our compliance with the laws, rules and regulations promulgated by federal regulatory bodies and the regulatory authorities in each of the states and other jurisdictions in which we do business. Our ability to comply with all applicable laws, rules and regulations, and interpretations is largely dependent on our establishment and maintenance of compliance, audit

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and reporting systems and procedures, as well as our ability to attract and retain qualified compliance, audit and risk management personnel. While we believe that we have adopted policies and procedures reasonably designed to comply with all applicable laws, rules and regulations, and interpretations these systems and procedures may not be fully effective, and there can be no assurance that regulators or third-parties will not raise material issues with respect to our past or future compliance with applicable regulations.
Our profitability could also be affected by rules and regulations that impact the business and financial communities generally and, in particular, our advisors’ and their clients, including changes to the interpretation or enforcement of laws governing taxation (including the classification of independent contractor status of our advisors), trading, electronic commerce, privacy, and data protection. For instance, failure to comply with new rules and regulations could subject us to regulatory actions or litigation and it could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, or financial condition.
New rules and regulations could also result in limitations on the lines of business we conduct, modifications to our business practices, increased capital requirements, and additional costs. For example, last year the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued a proposed a rule: "Definition of the Term "Fiduciary"; Conflict of Interest Rule -- Retirement Investment Advice", related prohibited transaction exemptions, and amendments to certain existing exemptions ("Fiduciary Rule"), that, if adopted, could impose new requirements on our various business lines. If adopted as proposed, the Fiduciary Rule would broaden the circumstances under which we may be considered a “fiduciary” with respect to certain accounts that are subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”), and the prohibited transaction rules under section 4975 of the Internal Revenue Code, including many employer-sponsored retirement plans and individual retirement accounts (IRAs). These changes could affect the products and services we provide to these types of accounts and the compensation that we and our advisors receive in connection with such products and services, as well as our regulatory compliance and other costs and those of our advisors. Depending on the final Fiduciary Rule and the nature of the clients that they serve, certain of our advisors may choose not to maintain their brokerage licenses or may choose not to maintain a relationship with us. The extent of the Fiduciary Rule’s effect on us, our advisors, and the broader financial services industry cannot be known until after a final rule, if any, is adopted.
In addition, provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the “Dodd-Frank Act”) that may affect our business include, but are not limited to, the potential implementation of a more stringent fiduciary standard for broker-dealers and the potential establishment of a new SRO for investment advisors. Compliance with these provisions would likely result in increased costs. Moreover, to the extent the Dodd-Frank Act affects the operations, financial condition, liquidity and capital requirements of financial institutions with which we do business, those institutions may seek to pass on increased costs, reduce their capacity to transact, or otherwise present inefficiencies in their interactions with us. The ultimate impact that the Dodd-Frank Act will have on us, the financial industry and the economy cannot be known until all such applicable regulations called for under the Dodd-Frank Act have been finalized and implemented.
In addition to the DOL and Dodd-Frank Act rule promulgation, other proposals are currently under consideration by federal banking regulators that may have an impact upon our profitability. Global regulators are engaged in ongoing efforts to build upon the Basel capital accords, which set new capital and liquidity standards for global banking institutions (“Basel III”). Basel III is designed to strengthen bank capital requirements and introduce new regulatory requirements on bank liquidity. In October 2013, U.S. banking regulators issued a final rule implementing Basel III capital standards in the U.S. In September 2014, U.S. banking regulators issued a final rule to implement the liquidity coverage ratio standards to address Basel III liquidity standards in the U.S. These new rules and proposals could negatively impact the attractiveness of cash deposits to banks who participate in our cash sweep programs, making it more difficult for us to renew existing contracts and negotiate new arrangements.
We are subject to various regulatory requirements, which, if not complied with, could result in the restriction of the ongoing conduct or growth, or even liquidation of, parts of our business.
The business activities that we may conduct are limited by various regulatory agencies. Our membership agreement with FINRA may be amended by application to include additional business activities. This application process is time-consuming and may not be successful. As a result, we may be prevented from entering new potentially profitable businesses in a timely manner, or at all. In addition, as a member of FINRA, we are subject to certain regulations regarding changes in control of our ownership. Rule 1017 of the National Association of Securities Dealers generally provides, among other things, that FINRA approval must be obtained in connection with any transaction resulting in a change in our equity ownership that results in one person or entity directly or indirectly owning or controlling 25% or more of our equity capital. Similarly, the OCC imposes advance approval requirements for a change of control, and control is presumed to exist if a person acquires 10% or more of our common stock. These regulatory approval processes can result in delay, increased costs or impose additional

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transaction terms in connection with a proposed change of control, such as capital contributions to the regulated entity. As a result of these regulations, our future efforts to sell shares or raise additional capital may be delayed or prohibited.
In addition, the SEC, FINRA, CFTC, OCC, and NFA have extensive rules and regulations with respect to capital requirements. As a registered broker-dealer, LPL Financial is subject to Rule 15c3-1 (“Uniform Net Capital Rule”) under the Exchange Act, and related SRO requirements. The CFTC and NFA also impose net capital requirements. The Uniform Net Capital Rule specifies minimum capital requirements that are intended to ensure the general soundness and liquidity of broker-dealers. Because our holding companies are not registered broker-dealers, they are not subject to the Uniform Net Capital Rule. However, the ability of our holding companies to withdraw capital from our broker-dealer subsidiary could be restricted, which in turn could limit our ability to repay debt, redeem or purchase shares of our outstanding stock or pay dividends. A large operating loss or charge against net capital could adversely affect our ability to expand or even maintain our present levels of business.
Failure to comply with ERISA regulations and certain retirement plan regulations could result in penalties against us.
We are subject to ERISA and Section 4975 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Internal Revenue Code”), and to regulations promulgated thereunder, insofar as we act as a “fiduciary” under ERISA with respect to benefit plan clients or otherwise deal with benefit plan clients. ERISA and applicable provisions of the Internal Revenue Code impose duties on persons who are fiduciaries, prohibit specified transactions involving benefit plan clients (including, without limitation, certain employee benefit plans, individual retirement accounts and Keogh plans) and impose monetary penalties for violations of these prohibitions. Our failure to comply with these requirements could result in significant penalties against us that could have a material adverse effect on our business (or, in a worst case, severely limit the extent to which we could act as fiduciaries for or provide services to these plans). As described above, if adopted, the Fiduciary Rule would broaden the circumstances under which we are deemed to be a “fiduciary” with respect to these plans and could affect the products and services we provide to them and the compensation that we may receive.
Risks Related to Our Competition
We operate in an intensely competitive industry, which could cause us to lose advisors and their assets, thereby reducing our revenues and net income.
We are subject to competition in all aspects of our business, including competition for our advisors and their clients, from:
asset management firms;
commercial banks and thrift institutions;
insurance companies;
other clearing/custodial technology companies; and
brokerage and investment banking firms.
Many of our competitors have substantially greater resources than we do and may offer a broader range of services, including financial products, across more markets. Some operate in a different regulatory environment than we do, which may give them certain competitive advantages in the services they offer. For example, certain of our competitors only provide clearing services and consequently would not have any supervision or oversight liability relating to actions of their financial advisors. We believe that competition within our industry will intensify as a result of consolidation and acquisition activity and because new competitors face few barriers to entry, which could adversely affect our ability to recruit new advisors and retain existing advisors.
If we fail to continue to attract highly qualified advisors or advisors licensed with us leave us to pursue other opportunities, or if current or potential clients of our advisors decide to use one of our competitors, we could face a significant decline in market share, commission and fee revenues and net income. If we are required to increase our payout of commissions and fees to our advisors in order to remain competitive, our net income could be significantly reduced.
Poor service or performance of the financial products that we offer or competitive pressures on pricing of such services or products may cause clients of our advisors to withdraw their assets on short notice.
Clients of our advisors control their assets under management with us. Poor service or performance of the financial products that we offer or competitive pressures on pricing of such services or products may result in the loss of accounts. In addition, we must monitor the pricing of our services and financial products in relation to

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competitors and periodically may need to adjust commission and fee rates, interest rates on deposits and margin loans and other fee structures to remain competitive. Competition from other financial services firms, such as reduced commissions to attract clients or trading volume or higher deposit rates to attract client cash balances, could adversely impact our business. The decrease in revenue that could result from such an event could have a material adverse effect on our business.
We face competition in attracting and retaining key talent.
Our success and future growth depends upon our ability to attract and retain qualified employees. There is significant competition for qualified employees in the broker-dealer industry. Each of our executive officers is an employee at will and none has an employment agreement. We may not be able to retain our existing employees or fill new positions or vacancies created by expansion or turnover. The loss or unavailability of these individuals could have a material adverse effect on our business.
Moreover, our success depends upon the continued services of our key senior management personnel, including our executive officers and senior managers. The loss of one or more of our key senior management personnel, and the failure to recruit a suitable replacement or replacements, could have a material adverse effect on our business.
Risks Related to Our Debt
Our indebtedness could adversely affect our financial health and may limit our ability to use debt to fund future capital needs.
At December 31, 2015 , we had total indebtedness of $2.2 billion . Our level of indebtedness could increase our vulnerability to general adverse economic and industry conditions. It could also require us to dedicate a substantial portion of our cash flow from operations to payments on our indebtedness, thereby reducing the availability of our cash flow to fund working capital, capital expenditures, and other general corporate purposes. In addition, our level of indebtedness may limit our flexibility in planning for changes in our business and the industry in which we operate, and limit our ability to borrow additional funds.
If our cash flows and capital resources are insufficient to fund our debt service obligations, we could face substantial liquidity problems and could be forced to sell assets, seek additional capital or seek to restructure or refinance our indebtedness. These alternative measures may not be successful or feasible. Our senior secured credit agreement restricts our ability to sell assets. Even if we could consummate those sales, the proceeds that we realize from them may not be adequate to meet any debt service obligations then due. Furthermore, if an event of default were to occur with respect to our senior secured credit agreement or other future indebtedness, our creditors could, among other things, accelerate the maturity of our indebtedness.
Our senior secured credit agreement permits us to incur additional indebtedness. Although our senior secured credit agreement contains restrictions on the incurrence of additional indebtedness, these restrictions are subject to a number of significant qualifications and exceptions, and the indebtedness incurred in compliance with these restrictions could be substantial. Also, these restrictions do not prevent us from incurring obligations that do not constitute “indebtedness” as defined in our senior secured credit agreement. To the extent new debt or other obligations are added to our currently anticipated debt levels, the substantial indebtedness risks described above would increase.
A credit rating downgrade would not impact the terms of our repayment obligations under our senior secured credit agreement. However, any such downgrade would negatively impact our ability to obtain comparable rates and terms on any future refinancing of our debt and could restrict our ability to incur additional indebtedness.
Restrictions under our senior secured credit agreement may prevent us from taking actions that we believe would be in the best interest of our business.
Our senior secured credit agreement contains customary restrictions on our activities, including covenants that may restrict us from:
incurring additional indebtedness or issuing disqualified stock or preferred stock;
paying dividends on, redeeming or repurchasing our capital stock;
making investments or acquisitions;
creating liens;
selling assets;
guaranteeing indebtedness;

18



engaging in transactions with affiliates; and
consolidating, merging, or transferring all or substantially all of our assets.
We are also required to meet specified leverage ratio and interest coverage ratio tests. These restrictions may prevent us from taking actions that we believe would be in the best interest of our business. Our ability to comply with these restrictive covenants will depend on our future performance, which may be affected by events beyond our control. If we violate any of these covenants and are unable to obtain waivers, we would be in default under our senior secured credit agreement and payment of the indebtedness could be accelerated. The acceleration of our indebtedness under our senior secured credit agreement may permit acceleration of indebtedness under other agreements that contain cross-default or cross-acceleration provisions. If our indebtedness is accelerated, we may not be able to repay that indebtedness or borrow sufficient funds to refinance it. Even if we are able to obtain new financing, it may not be on commercially reasonable terms or on terms that are acceptable to us. If our indebtedness is in default for any reason, our business could be materially and adversely affected. In addition, complying with these covenants may also cause us to take actions that are not favorable to holders of our common stock and may make it more difficult for us to successfully execute our business strategy and compete against companies that are not subject to such restrictions.
Provisions of our senior secured credit agreement could discourage an acquisition of us by a third party.
Certain provisions of our senior secured credit agreement could make it more difficult or more expensive for a third party to acquire us, and any of our future debt agreements may contain similar provisions. Upon the occurrence of certain transactions constituting a change of control, all indebtedness under our senior secured credit agreement may be accelerated and become due and payable. A potential acquirer may not have sufficient financial resources to purchase our outstanding indebtedness in connection with a change of control.
Risks Related to Our Technology
We rely on technology in our business, and technology and execution failures could subject us to losses, litigation, and regulatory actions.
Our business relies extensively on electronic data processing and communications systems. In addition to better serving our advisors and their clients, the effective use of technology increases efficiency and enables firms like ours to reduce costs and support our regulatory compliance and reporting functions. Our continued success will depend, in part, upon:
our ability to successfully maintain and upgrade the capability of our systems;
our ability to address the needs of our advisors and their clients by using technology to provide products and services that satisfy their demands;
our ability to use technology effectively to support our regulatory compliance and reporting functions; and
our ability to retain skilled information technology employees.
Extraordinary trading volumes, beyond reasonably foreseeable spikes in volumes, could cause our computer systems to operate at an unacceptably slow speed or even fail. Failure of our systems, which could result from these or other events beyond our control, or an inability to effectively upgrade those systems or implement new technology-driven products or services, could result in financial losses, unanticipated disruptions in service to clients, liability to our advisors' clients, regulatory sanctions and damage to our reputation.
Our operations rely on the secure processing, storage and transmission of confidential and other information in our computer systems and networks. Although we take protective measures and endeavor to modify them as circumstances warrant, the computer systems, software, and networks may be vulnerable to unauthorized access, human error, computer viruses, denial-of-service attacks, malicious code, and other events that could impact the security, reliability, and availability of our systems. If one or more of these events occur, this could jeopardize our own, our advisors’ or their clients’ or counterparties’ confidential and other information processed, stored in and transmitted through our computer systems and networks, or otherwise cause interruptions or malfunctions in our own, our advisors’ or their clients’, our counterparties’, or third parties’ operations. We may be required to expend significant additional resources to modify our protective measures, to investigate and remediate vulnerabilities or other exposures or to make required notifications, and we may be subject to litigation, regulatory sanctions and financial losses that are either not insured or are not fully covered through any insurance we maintain. Cybersecurity requires ongoing investment and diligence against evolving threats. See also " Our networks may be vulnerable to security risks" below.

19



The securities settlement process exposes us to risks that may expose our advisors and us to adverse movements in price.
LPL Financial, one of our subsidiaries, provides clearing services and trade processing for our advisors and their clients and certain financial institutions. Broker-dealers that clear their own trades are subject to substantially more regulatory requirements than brokers that outsource these functions to third-party providers. Errors in performing clearing functions, including clerical, technological and other errors related to the handling of funds and securities held by us on behalf of our advisors' clients, could lead to censures, fines or other sanctions imposed by applicable regulatory authorities as well as losses and liability in related lawsuits and proceedings brought by our advisors’ clients and others. Any unsettled securities transactions or wrongly executed transactions may expose our advisors and us to adverse movements in the prices of such securities.
Our networks may be vulnerable to security risks.
The secure transmission of confidential information over public networks is a critical element of our operations. As part of our normal operations, we maintain and transmit confidential information about clients of our advisors as well as proprietary information relating to our business operations. The risks related to transmitting data and using service providers outside of and storing or processing data within our network are increasing based on escalating and malicious cyber activity, including activity that originates outside of the United States. Cyber attacks can be designed to collect information, manipulate or corrupt data, applications or accounts, and to disable the functioning or use of applications or technology assets.
Our application service provider systems maintain and process confidential data on behalf of advisors and their clients, some of which is critical to our advisors’ business operations. If our application service provider systems are disrupted or fail for any reason, or if our systems or facilities are infiltrated or damaged by unauthorized persons, our advisors could experience data loss, financial loss, harm to reputation and significant business interruption. In addition, vulnerabilities of our external service providers could pose security risks to client information. If any such disruption or failure occurs, we may be exposed to unexpected liability, advisors' clients may withdraw their assets, our reputation may be tarnished and there could be a material adverse effect on our business.
Our networks may be vulnerable to unauthorized access, computer viruses, and other security problems in the future. We rely on our advisors and employees to comply with our policies and procedures to safeguard confidential data. The failure of our advisors and employees to comply with such policies and procedures could result in the loss or wrongful use of their clients’ confidential information or other sensitive information. In addition, even if we and our advisors comply with our policies and procedures, persons who circumvent security measures could wrongfully use our confidential information or clients’ confidential information or cause interruptions or malfunctions in our operations. Cyber attacks can be designed to collect information, manipulate or corrupt data, applications or accounts, and to disable the functioning or use of applications or technology assets. Such activity could, among other things:
seriously damage our reputation;
allow competitors access to our proprietary business information;
subject us to liability for a failure to safeguard client data;
result in the termination of relationships with our advisors;
subject us to regulatory sanctions or burdens, based on state law or the authority of the SEC and FINRA to enforce regulations regarding business continuity planning; 
result in inaccurate financial data reporting; and
require significant capital and operating expenditures to investigate and remediate the breach.
As malicious cyber activity escalates, including activity that originates outside of the United States, the risks we face relating to transmission of data and our use of service providers outside of our network, as well as the storing or processing of data within our network, intensify. While we maintain cyber liability insurance, this insurance may not be sufficient to protect us against all losses.

20



Failure to maintain technological capabilities, flaws in existing technology, difficulties in upgrading our technology platform, or the introduction of a competitive platform could have a material adverse effect on our business.
We depend on highly specialized and, in many cases, proprietary technology to support our business functions, including among others:
securities trading and custody;
portfolio management;
customer service;
accounting and internal financial processes and controls; and
regulatory compliance and reporting.
In addition, our continued success depends on our ability to effectively adopt new or adapt existing technologies to meet client, industry and regulatory demands. We might be required to make significant capital expenditures to maintain competitive technology. For example, we believe that our technology platform is one of our competitive strengths, and our future success will depend in part on our ability to anticipate and adapt to technological advancements required to meet the changing demands of our advisors. The emergence of new industry standards and practices could render our existing systems obsolete or uncompetitive. Any upgrades or expansions may require significant expenditures of funds and may also cause us to suffer system degradations, outages and failures. There cannot be any assurance that we will have sufficient funds to adequately update and expand our networks, nor can there be any assurance that any upgrade or expansion attempts will be successful and accepted by our current and prospective advisors. If our technology systems were to fail and we were unable to recover in a timely way, we would be unable to fulfill critical business functions, which could lead to a loss of advisors and could harm our reputation. A technological breakdown could also interfere with our ability to comply with financial reporting and other regulatory requirements, exposing us to disciplinary action and to liability to our advisors and their clients. There cannot be any assurance that another company will not design a similar platform that affects our competitive advantage.
Inadequacy or disruption of our business continuity and disaster recovery plans and procedures in the event of a catastrophe could adversely affect our business.
We have made a significant investment in our infrastructure, and our operations are dependent on our ability to protect the continuity of our infrastructure against damage from catastrophe or natural disaster, breach of security, loss of power, telecommunications failure, or other natural or man-made events. A catastrophic event could have a direct negative impact on us by adversely affecting our advisors, employees or facilities, or an indirect impact on us by adversely affecting the financial markets or the overall economy. While we have implemented business continuity and disaster recovery plans and maintain business interruption insurance, it is impossible to fully anticipate and protect against all potential catastrophes. If our business continuity and disaster recovery plans and procedures were disrupted or unsuccessful in the event of a catastrophe, we could experience a material adverse interruption of our operations.
We rely on outsourced service providers to perform technology, processing, and support functions.
We rely on outsourced service providers to perform certain technology, processing and support functions. For example, we have an agreement with Thomson Reuters BETA Systems, a division of Thomson Reuters ("BETA Systems"), under which they provide us key operational support, including data processing services for securities transactions and back office processing support. Our use of third-party service providers may decrease our ability to control operating risks and information technology systems risks. Any significant failures by BETA Systems or our other service providers could cause us to sustain serious operational disruptions and incur losses and could harm our reputation. If we had to change these service providers unexpectedly, we would also experience a disruption to our business, and we cannot predict the costs or time that would be required to find alternative service providers. We cannot provide any assurance that the disruption caused by a significant failure by, or change in, our service providers would not have a material adverse effect on our business. We have transitioned additional business processes to third-party service providers, which increases our reliance on outsourced providers, including off-shore providers, and the related risks described above. For example, we rely on several off-shore service providers for functions related to cash management, account transfers, information technology infrastructure and support, and document imaging, among others. To the extent third-party service providers are located in foreign jurisdictions, we are exposed to risks inherent in conducting business outside of the United States, including international economic and political conditions, and the additional costs associated with complying with foreign laws and fluctuations in currency values.

21



Risks Related to Our Business Generally
Any damage to our reputation could harm our business and lead to a loss of revenues and net income.
We have spent many years developing our reputation for integrity and superior client service, which is built upon our four pillars of support for our advisors: enabling technology, comprehensive clearing and compliance services, practice management programs and training, and independent research. Our ability to attract and retain advisors and employees is highly dependent upon external perceptions of our level of service, business practices and financial condition. Damage to our reputation could cause significant harm to our business and prospects and may arise from numerous sources, including:
litigation or regulatory actions;
failing to deliver minimum standards of service and quality;
compliance failures; and
unethical behavior and the misconduct of employees, advisors or counterparties.
Negative perceptions or publicity regarding these matters could damage our reputation among existing and potential advisors and employees. Adverse developments with respect to our industry may also, by association, negatively impact our reputation or result in greater regulatory or legislative scrutiny or litigation against us. These occurrences could lead to loss of revenue and net income.
Our business is subject to risks related to litigation, arbitration actions, and governmental and SRO investigations.
We are subject to legal proceedings arising out of our business operations, including lawsuits, arbitration claims, regulatory, governmental or SRO subpoenas, investigations, and actions and other claims. Many of our legal claims are initiated by clients of our advisors and involve the purchase or sale of investment securities, but other claims may be asserted by regulatory authorities.
In our investment advisory programs, we have fiduciary obligations that require us and our advisors to act in the best interests of our advisors ' clients. We may face liabilities for actual or alleged breaches of legal duties to our advisors ' clients, in respect of issues related to the suitability of the financial products we make available in our open architecture product platform or the investment advice of our advisors based on their clients ' investment objectives (including, for example, alternative investments or exchange traded funds). We may also become subject to claims, allegations and legal proceedings that we infringe or misappropriate intellectual property or other proprietary rights of others. In addition, we may be subject to legal proceedings related to employment matters, including wage and hour, discrimination or harassment claims. The outcome of any such actions, including regulatory proceedings, cannot be predicted, and a negative outcome in such a matter could result in substantial legal liability, regulatory fines or monetary penalties, censure, loss of intellectual property rights and injunctive or other equitable relief against us. Further, such outcome may cause us significant reputational harm and could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows or financial condition.
Our risk management policies and procedures may not be fully effective in mitigating our risk exposure in all market environments or against all types of risks.
We have adopted policies and procedures to identify, monitor and manage our operational risk. These policies and procedures, however, may not be fully effective. Some of our risk evaluation methods depend upon information provided by others and public information regarding markets, clients or other matters that are otherwise accessible by us. In some cases, however, that information may not be accurate, complete or up-to-date. Also, because our advisors work in decentralized offices, additional risk management challenges may exist. In addition, our existing policies and procedures and staffing levels may be insufficient to support a significant increase in our advisor population; such an increase may require us to increase our costs in order to maintain our compliance and risk management obligations or put a strain on our existing policies and procedures as we evolve to support a larger advisor population. If our policies and procedures are not fully effective or if we are not always successful in capturing all risks to which we are or may be exposed, we may suffer harm to our reputation or be subject to litigation or regulatory actions that could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition.
Misconduct and errors by our employees and our advisors, who operate in a decentralized environment, could harm our business.
Misconduct and errors by our employees and our advisors could result in violations of law by us, regulatory sanctions or serious reputational or financial harm. We cannot always prevent misconduct and errors by our employees and our advisors, and the precautions we take to prevent and detect these activities may not be effective in all cases. Prevention and detection among our advisors, who are not our direct employees and some of

22



whom tend to be located in small, decentralized offices, present additional challenges. There cannot be any assurance that misconduct and errors by our employees and advisors will not lead to a material adverse effect on our business.
Our insurance coverage may be inadequate or expensive.
We are subject to claims in the ordinary course of business. These claims may involve substantial amounts of money and involve significant defense costs. It is not always possible to prevent or detect activities giving rise to claims, and the precautions we take may not be effective in all cases.
We maintain voluntary and required insurance coverage, including, among others, general liability, property, director and officer, excess-SIPC, business interruption, cyber and data breach, errors and omissions, and fidelity bond insurance. We have self-insurance for certain potential liabilities through a wholly-owned captive insurance subsidiary. While we endeavor to self-insure and purchase coverage that is appropriate to our assessment of our risk, we are unable to predict with certainty the frequency, nature or magnitude of claims for direct or consequential damages. In addition, certain types of potential claims for damages cannot be insured. Our business may be negatively affected if in the future some or all of our insurance proves to be inadequate or unavailable. In addition, insurance claims may harm our reputation or divert management resources away from operating our business.
Changes in U.S. federal income tax law could make some of the products distributed by our advisors less attractive to clients.
Some of the financial products distributed by our advisors, such as variable annuities, enjoy favorable treatment under current U.S. federal income tax law. Changes in U.S. federal income tax law, in particular with respect to variable annuity products or with respect to tax rates on capital gains or dividends, could make some of these products less attractive to clients and, as a result, could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows or financial condition.
Our planned real estate development project in Fort Mill, South Carolina subjects us to financial risks, including risks related to construction and development costs
We are currently developing office space on two undeveloped parcels of land in Fort Mill, South Carolina. We plan for this new office space, once completed, to serve as a consolidated regional campus to which employees will be relocated from several facilities that we currently lease in Charlotte, North Carolina. The initial phase of the project includes the construction of two buildings that will be owned by a third party and leased to LPL for a 20-year term, with multiple renewal options following such term. In contrast to a conventional build-to-suit lease, under which a developer constructs a building on a turnkey basis for a tenant, with the developer being the primary bearer of construction and development risk, the initial phase of our project has been structured as a credit tenant lease. Under this structure, the third party landlord will not actually develop the buildings or have any related maintenance obligations. Rather, the construction of the buildings has been delegated by the landlord to LPL, and the landlord has provided a capped allowance, expected to be approximately $112 million, to fund a portion of the construction costs. Construction is currently expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2016. Following completion of construction, LPL will have sole responsibility for the maintenance and operation of the buildings, including taxes and insurance. 
Although we believe that this structure will result in reduced financing costs for the project, LPL will be responsible for the development of the campus and will bear the risk of cost overruns, zoning issues, opposition to the project and construction delays, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our financial results and liquidity. LPL does not have prior experience with real estate developments under a credit tenant structure and will be highly dependent on a third party development consultant to manage the project successfully, including timely achievement of certain construction milestones. Failure to achieve those milestones will constitute a default under our agreements, which would provide the landlord with rights to require LPL to pay for all of the costs of the project, including acquisition and all development costs incurred to date, or the purchase of the property from the landlord. In addition to these risks, the accounting treatment of a credit tenant lease is complicated and may change in the future. 

23



Risks Related to Ownership of Our Common Stock
Certain significant stockholders may have the ability to influence the outcome of matters submitted for stockholder approval and may have interests that differ from those of our other stockholders.
As of December 31, 2015, certain of our stockholders owned significant amounts of the outstanding shares of our common stock. So long as such stockholders continue to own a significant amount of the outstanding shares of our common stock, they may be able to influence our decisions, regardless of whether or not other stockholders believe that such decisions are in their own best interests. Such concentration of voting power could also have the effect of delaying, deterring, or preventing a change of control or other business combination that might otherwise be beneficial to our stockholders.
In addition, certain such stockholders are in the business of making investments in companies and may, from time to time in the future, acquire interests in businesses that directly or indirectly compete with certain portions of our business. To the extent such stockholders invest in such other businesses, they may have differing interests than our other stockholders. They may also pursue acquisition opportunities that may be complementary to our business and, as a result, those acquisition opportunities may not be available to us.
The price of our common stock may be volatile and fluctuate substantially, which could result in substantial losses for our investors.
The market price of our common stock is likely to be highly volatile and may fluctuate substantially due to the following factors (in addition to the other risk factors described in this section):
actual or anticipated fluctuations in our results of operations, including with regard to interest rates or revenues associated with our cash sweep program or key business lines;
variance in our financial performance from the expectations of equity research analysts;
conditions and trends in the markets we serve;
announcements of significant new services or products by us or our competitors;
additions or changes to key personnel;
the commencement or outcome of litigation or regulatory procedures;
changes in market valuation or earnings of our competitors;
the trading volume of our common stock;
future sale of our equity securities;
changes in the estimation of the future size and growth rate of our markets;
legislation or regulatory policies, practices or actions, including developments related to the Fiduciary Rule; and
general economic conditions.
In addition, the equity markets in general have experienced extreme price and volume fluctuations that have often been unrelated or disproportionate to the operating performance of the particular companies affected. These broad market and industry factors may materially harm the market price of our common stock irrespective of our operating performance. In addition, in the past, following periods of volatility in the overall market and the market price of a company’s securities, securities class action litigation has often been instituted against the affected company. This type of litigation, if instituted against us, could result in substantial costs and a diversion of our management’s attention and resources.
We are a holding company and rely on dividends, distributions, and other payments, advances, and transfers of funds from our subsidiaries to meet our debt service and other obligations.
We have no direct operations and derive all of our cash flow from our subsidiaries. Because we conduct our operations through our subsidiaries, we depend on those entities for dividends and other payments or distributions to meet any existing or future debt service and other obligations. The deterioration of the earnings from, or other available assets of, our subsidiaries for any reason could limit or impair their ability to pay dividends or other distributions to us. In addition, FINRA regulations restrict dividends in excess of 10% of a member firm’s excess net capital without FINRA’s prior approval. Compliance with this regulation may impede our ability to receive dividends from our broker-dealer subsidiary.

24



Our future abilities to pay regular dividends to holders of our common stock or repurchase shares are subject to the discretion of our board of directors and will be limited by our ability to generate sufficient earnings and cash flows.
On February 23, 2016 , our board of directors declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.25 per share on our outstanding common stock, payable on March 14, 2016 . In addition, our board of directors from time to time authorizes us to repurchase shares of the Company’s issued and outstanding shares of common stock. The declaration and payment of any future quarterly cash dividend or any additional repurchase authorizations will be subject to the board of directors' continuing determination that the declaration of future dividends or repurchase of our shares are in the best interests of our stockholders and are in compliance with applicable law. Such determinations will depend upon a number of factors that the board of directors deems relevant, including future earnings, the success of our business activities, capital requirements, the general financial condition and future prospects of our business and general business conditions.
The future payment of dividends or repurchases of shares will also depend on our ability to generate earnings and cash flows. If we are unable to generate sufficient earnings and cash flows from our business, we may not be able to pay dividends on our common stock or repurchase additional shares. In addition, our ability to pay cash dividends on our common stock is dependent on the ability of our subsidiaries to pay dividends, including compliance with limitations under our senior secured credit agreement. Our broker-dealer subsidiary is subject to requirements of the SEC, FINRA, the CFTC, and other regulators relating to liquidity, capital standards, and the use of client funds and securities, which may limit funds available for the payment of dividends to us.
Anti-takeover provisions in our certificate of incorporation and bylaws could prevent or delay a change in control of our company.
Our certificate of incorporation and our bylaws contain certain provisions that may discourage, delay, or prevent a change in our management or control over us that stockholders may consider favorable, including the following:
the sole ability of the board of directors to fill a vacancy created by the expansion of the board of directors;
advance notice requirements for stockholder proposals and director nominations;
limitations on the ability of stockholders to call special meetings and to take action by written consent;
the approval of holders of at least two-thirds of the shares entitled to vote generally on the making, alteration, amendment or repeal of our certificate of incorporation or bylaws will be required to adopt, amend, or repeal our bylaws, or amend or repeal certain provisions of our certificate of incorporation;
the required approval of holders of at least two-thirds of the shares entitled to vote at an election of the directors to remove directors; and
the ability of our board of directors to designate the terms of and issue new series of preferred stock, without stockholder approval, which could be used to institute a rights plan, or a poison pill, that would work to dilute the stock ownership of a potential hostile acquirer, likely preventing acquisitions that have not been approved by our board of directors.
The existence of the foregoing provisions and anti-takeover measures could limit the price that investors might be willing to pay in the future for shares of our common stock. They could also deter potential acquirers of our company, thereby reducing the likelihood that you could receive a premium for your common stock in the acquisition.

25



Item 1B.  Unresolved Staff Comments
None.
Item 2.  Properties
Our corporate offices are located in Boston, Massachusetts where we lease approximately 69,000 square feet of space under a lease agreement that expires on June 30, 2023, with two five-year extensions at our option; in San Diego, California where we lease approximately 420,000 square feet of office space under a lease agreement that expires on April 30, 2029; in Charlotte, North Carolina where we lease a total of approximately 325,000 square feet of space in four facilities under lease agreements, of which one expires on October 31, 2016 and the three remaining lease agreements expire on February 28, 2017.
We also have a lease agreement for office space in Fort Mill, South Carolina for which we are involved in the construction of a building for office space and plan to move our Charlotte offices into this location starting in late 2016.
We also lease smaller administrative and operational offices in various locations throughout the U.S. We believe that our existing properties are adequate for the current operating requirements of our business and that additional space will be available as needed.
Item 3.  Legal Proceedings
We are involved from time to time in routine legal proceedings occurring in the ordinary course of business. In the opinion of management, there are no matters outstanding that would have a material adverse impact on our operations, financial condition, or cash flows. For a discussion of legal proceedings, see Note 13 . Commitments and Contingencies , within the notes to consolidated financial statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

26



Item 4.  Mine Safety Disclosures
Not applicable.

27



PART II
Item 5.    
Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters, and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Market Information
Our common stock is traded on the NASDAQ under the symbol “LPLA.” The closing sale price as of December 31, 2015 was $42.65 per share. As of that date there were 658 common stockholders of record based on information provided by our transfer agent. The number of stockholders of record does not reflect the number of individual or institutional stockholders that beneficially own the Company's stock because most stock is held in the name of nominees.
The following table shows the high and low sales prices for our common stock for the periods indicated, as reported by the NASDAQ. The prices reflect inter-dealer prices and do not include retail markups, markdowns, or commissions.
 
High
 
Low
2015
 
 
 
Fourth Quarter
$
48.00

 
$
36.41

Third Quarter
$
48.18

 
$
37.72

Second Quarter
$
48.00

 
$
39.41

First Quarter
$
47.38

 
$
39.83

 
 
 
 
2014
 
 
 
Fourth Quarter
$
46.06

 
$
38.34

Third Quarter
$
53.97

 
$
45.95

Second Quarter
$
54.07

 
$
45.34

First Quarter
$
56.45

 
$
46.23


28



Performance Graph
The following graph compares the cumulative total stockholder return (rounded to the nearest whole dollar) of the Company's common stock, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Financial Sector Index (the "S&P 500 Financial") and the Dow Jones U.S. Financial Services Index (the "Dow Jones Financial") for the last five years. The graph assumes a $100 investment at the closing price on December 31, 2010 and reinvestment of the dividends on the respective dividend payment dates without commissions. This graph does not forecast future performance of the Company's stock.

29



Dividends
Cash dividends declared per share of common stock and total cash dividends paid during each quarter for the years ended December 31, 2015 and 2014 were as follows (in millions, except per share data):
 
Dividend per Share Declared
 
Total Cash Dividend Paid
2015
 
 
 
Fourth quarter
$
0.250

 
$
23.8

Third quarter
$
0.250

 
$
23.8

Second quarter
$
0.250

 
$
24.1

First quarter
$
0.250

 
$
24.2

 
 
 
 
2014
 
 
 
Fourth quarter
$
0.240

 
$
23.5

Third quarter
$
0.240

 
$
24.0

Second quarter
$
0.240

 
$
24.0

First quarter
$
0.240

 
$
24.1

On February 23, 2016 , the Board of Directors declared a cash dividend of $0.25 per share on our outstanding common stock to be paid on March 14, 2016 to all stockholders of record on March 4, 2016 .
Any future determination relating to the declaration and payment of dividends will be made at the discretion of our Board of Directors and will depend on a number of factors, including future earnings, capital requirements, financial conditions, future prospects, contractual restrictions and covenants, and other factors that our board of directors may deem relevant. Our senior secured credit agreement contains restrictions on our activities, including paying dividends on our capital stock. For an explanation of these restrictions, see “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations - Debt”. In addition, FINRA regulations restrict dividends in excess of 10% of a member firm’s excess net capital without FINRA’s prior approval, potentially impeding our ability to receive dividends from LPL Financial.
Securities Authorized for Issuance Under Equity Compensation Plans
The table below sets forth information on compensation plans under which our equity securities are authorized for issuance as of December 31, 2015 :
Plan category
 
Number of securities
to be issued
upon exercise of
outstanding options,
warrants and rights
 
Weighted-average
exercise price of
outstanding options,
warrants and rights
 
Number of securities
remaining available
for future
issuance under equity
compensation plans (excluding securities reflected in column (a))(1)
 
 
(a)
 
(b)
 
(c)
Equity compensation plans approved by security holders
 
5,687,885

 
$
34.36

 
12,993,267

Equity compensation plans not approved by security holders
 
28,603

 
$
22.50

 

Total
 
5,716,488

 
$
34.31

 
12,993,267

___________________
(1)
Includes shares available for future issuance under our amended and restated 2010 Omnibus Equity Incentive Plan.
As of December 31, 2015 , we had 28,603 warrants outstanding to purchase common stock under our 2008 LPL Investment Holdings Inc. Financial Institution Incentive Plan (the “Financial Institution Incentive Plan”). Eligible participants under this plan include certain financial institutions. The plan is administered by the Board of Directors or such other committee as may be appointed by the Board of Directors to administer the plan. The exercise price of warrants is equal to the fair market value on the grant date. Warrant awards vest in equal increments of 20.0% over a five-year period and expire on the 10th anniversary following the date of grant. The Financial Institution

30



Incentive Plan has not been approved by security holders. Following our IPO, grants were no longer to be made under our Financial Institution Incentive Plan.
Purchases of Equity Securities by the Issuer
The table below sets forth information regarding repurchases on a monthly basis during the fourth quarter of 2015 :
Period
 
Total Number
of Shares
Purchased
 
Weighted-Average Price
Paid per Share
 
Total Number
of Shares
Purchased as
Part of Publicly
Announced
Programs(1)
 
Approximate
Dollar Value of
Shares That May
Yet Be
Purchased Under
the Programs
October 1, 2015 through October 31, 2015
 

 
$

 

 
$
500,000,000

November 1, 2015 through November 30, 2015
 

 
$

 

 
$
500,000,000

December 1, 2015 through December 31, 2015
 
5,622,628

 
$
44.46

 
5,622,628

 
$
250,000,000

Total
 
5,622,628

 
$
44.46

 
5,622,628

 
$
250,000,000

_____________________
(1)
See Note 14 . Stockholders' Equity , within the notes to consolidated financial statements for additional information.

31



Item 6.  Selected Financial Data
The following table sets forth selected historical financial information for the past five fiscal years. The selected historical financial information presented below should be read in conjunction with the information included under the heading “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and our consolidated financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. We have derived the consolidated statements of income data for the years ended December 31, 2015 , 2014 , and 2013 and the consolidated statements of financial condition data as of December 31, 2015 and 2014 from our audited financial statements included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. We have derived the consolidated statements of income data for the years ended December 31, 2012 and 2011 and consolidated statements of financial condition data as of December 31, 2013, 2012, and 2011 from our audited financial statements not included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Our historical results for any prior period are not necessarily indicative of results to be expected in any future period.
 
Years Ended December 31,
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
 
2012
 
2011
 
(In thousands, except per share data)
Consolidated statements of income data:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Net revenues
$
4,275,054

 
$
4,373,662

 
$
4,140,858

 
$
3,661,088

 
$
3,479,375

Total expenses
$
3,992,499

 
$
4,078,965

 
$
3,849,555

 
$
3,410,497

 
$
3,196,690

Income before provision for income taxes
$
282,555

 
$
294,697

 
$
291,303

 
$
250,591

 
$
282,685

Provision for income taxes
$
113,771

 
$
116,654

 
$
109,446

 
$
98,673

 
$
112,303

Net income
$
168,784

 
$
178,043

 
$
181,857

 
$
151,918

 
$
170,382

Per share data:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Earnings per basic share
$
1.77

 
$
1.78

 
$
1.74

 
$
1.39

 
$
1.55

Earnings per diluted share
$
1.74

 
$
1.75

 
$
1.72

 
$
1.37

 
$
1.50

Cash dividends paid per share
$
1.00

 
$
0.96

 
$
0.65

 
$
2.24

 
$

 
December 31,
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
 
2012
 
2011
 
(In thousands)
Consolidated statements of financial condition data:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Cash and cash equivalents
$
724,529

 
$
412,332

 
$
516,584

 
$
466,261

 
$
720,772

Total assets (1)
$
4,521,061

 
$
4,041,930

 
$
4,027,114

 
$
3,968,007

 
$
3,798,749

Total debt (1)
$
2,188,240

 
$
1,625,195

 
$
1,519,379

 
$
1,297,308

 
$
1,315,091

(1)
The Company early adopted Accounting Standards Update ("ASU") 2015-03, Interest—Imputation of Interest, which simplifies the presentation of debt issuance costs on the balance sheet by presenting debt issuance costs as a direct deduction from the carrying amount of the related debt liability. These debt issuance costs had previously been included as an asset in the consolidated statements of financial condition. The effect of the reclassification from assets to debt is shown for all years presented.

32



Item 7.  Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
The following discussion of our financial condition and results of operations should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and the notes to those consolidated financial statements included in Item 8 of this Form 10-K. This discussion contains forward-looking statements that involve significant risks and uncertainties. As a result of many factors, such as those set forth under “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this Form 10-K, our actual results may differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements. Please also refer to the section under heading "Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements."
Overview
We are a leader in the retail financial advice market, the nation's largest independent broker-dealer (based on total revenues, Financial Planning magazine June 1996-2015), a top custodian for registered investment advisors ("RIAs"), and a leading independent consultant to retirement plans. We provide an integrated platform of brokerage and investment advisory services to more than 14,000 independent financial advisors (our "advisors"), including financial advisors at more than 700 financial institutions across the country, enabling them to provide their retail investors (their "clients") with objective financial advice through a lower conflict model. We also support over 4,200 financial advisors who are affiliated and licensed with insurance companies with customized clearing, advisory platforms and technology solutions.
Through our advisors, we are one of the largest distributors of financial products and services in the United States, and we believe that we are one of the top five firms in terms of largest overall advisor base in the United States.
We believe that objective financial guidance is a fundamental need for everyone. We enable our advisors to focus on what they do best—create the personal, long-term relationships that are the foundation for turning life’s aspirations into financial realities. We do that through a singular focus on providing our advisors with the front-, middle-, and back-office support they need to serve the large and growing market for independent investment advice. We believe that LPL Financial is the only company that offers advisors the unique combination of an integrated technology platform, comprehensive self-clearing services, and open architecture access to leading financial products, all delivered in an environment unencumbered by conflicts from product manufacturing, underwriting, and market-making.
We believe investors achieve better outcomes when working with a financial advisor. LPL makes it easy for advisors to do what is best for their clients, protecting advisors and investors while promoting independence and choice through access to a wide range of diligently evaluated non-proprietary products. This is the sole focus of our business.
Executive Summary
Asset Growth Trends
Net new advisory assets were $16.7 billion for the year ended December 31, 2015, compared to $17.5 billion in the same period in 2014. Headwinds in market-sensitive asset valuations offset most of these asset flows, leaving brokerage and advisory assets at $475.6 billion as of December 31, 2015, which was roughly flat with the prior year end balance of $475.1 billion .
As of December 31, 2015, our advisory assets had grown to $187.2 billion from the prior year end balance of $175.8 billion and represented 39.4% of advisory and brokerage assets served. In addition to our corporate RIA platform, we offer a platform that serves independent RIA firms that conduct their advisory business through separate entities (“Hybrid RIAs”) operating pursuant to the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended ("Advisers Act") or through their respective states' investment advisory laws and regulations, rather than through LPL Financial. As of December 31, 2015, assets custodied on our Hybrid RIA platform had grown to $118.7 billion as of December 31, 2015, compared to $94.5 billion as of the prior year end, and represented 25.0% of our total advisory and brokerage assets served.
Gross Profit Trends
Gross profit of $1,357.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2015 increased 2.4% in comparison to $1,325.9 million for the year ended December 31, 2014. The increase in year-over-year gross profit was primarily due to increases in advisory fees due to higher average balances, increases in asset-based revenues from sponsorship fees and omnibus record keeping, increases in transaction fees due to elevated transaction volumes, and an increase in fee revenue, primarily due to new fees; partially offset by decreases in our brokerage sales.
Debt Transaction

33



On November 20, 2015 we and our wholly-owned subsidiary, LPL Holdings, Inc. ("LPLH"), amended our senior secured credit agreement to, among other things, extend the maturity of a portion of the then-outstanding term B loan, borrow an additional $700 million in aggregate principal amount of term B loans, and increase the maximum leverage ratio permitted under the financial covenants. A portion of the proceeds were used to pay down $150 million in revolving credit borrowings outstanding under the senior secured credit agreement and to fund repurchases of shares of our common stock pursuant to an Accelerated Share Repurchase program. See Note 11 . Debt , within the notes to consolidated financial statements for additional information regarding our debt.
Capital Management Activity
We returned $273.8 million of capital to shareholders in the fourth quarter, including $250.0 million through share buy backs and $23.8 million in dividends. We purchased approximately 5.6 million shares of the Company's common stock during the period at a weighted average price of $44.46 per share. During the period January 1, 2016 through February 25, 2016, we also purchased 634,651 shares of our common stock at a weighted-average price of $39.41 .
On February 23, 2016 the Company's Board of Directors ("Board") declared a cash dividend of $0.25 per share on our outstanding common stock to be paid on March 14, 2016 to stockholders of record on March 4, 2016 .
Our Sources of Revenue
Our revenues are derived primarily from fees and commissions from products and advisory services offered by our advisors to their clients, a substantial portion of which we pay out to our advisors, as well as fees we receive from our advisors for the use of our technology, custody, clearing, trust, and reporting platforms. We also generate asset-based revenues through our platform that provides access to approximately 795 product providers that offer the following product lines:
• Insurance Based Products
 
• Alternative Investments
• Structured Products
 
• Mutual Funds
• Separately Managed Accounts
 
• Exchange Traded Products
• Unit Investment Trusts
 
• Retirement Plan Products
• Annuities
 
 
Under our self-clearing platform, we custody the majority of client assets invested in these financial products, for which we provide statements, transaction processing, and ongoing account management. In return for these services, mutual funds, insurance companies, banks, and other financial product manufacturers pay us fees based on asset levels or number of accounts managed. We also earn interest from margin loans made to our advisors’ clients.
We track recurring revenue, a characterization of net revenue and a statistical measure, which we define to include our revenues from asset-based fees, advisory fees, trailing commissions, cash sweep programs, and certain other fees that are based upon accounts and advisors. Because certain recurring revenues are associated with asset balances, they will fluctuate depending on the market values and current interest rates. Accordingly, our recurring revenue can be negatively impacted by adverse external market conditions. However, recurring revenue is meaningful to us despite these fluctuations because it is not dependent upon transaction volumes or other activity-based revenues, which are more difficult to predict, particularly in declining or volatile markets.

34



The table below summarizes the sources and drivers of our recurring revenue:
 
 
 
For the Year Ended December 31, 2015
 
Sources of Revenue
Primary Drivers
Total
(millions)
% of Total
Net Revenue
% Recurring
Advisor-driven
revenue with ~85%-90%
payout ratio
Commission
- Sales
- Transactions
- Brokerage asset levels
$1,977
46%
48%
Advisory
- Advisory asset levels
$1,352
32%
99%
Attachment revenue
 retained by us
Asset-Based
- Cash Sweep Fees
- Sponsorship Fees
- Record Keeping
- Cash balances
- Interest rates
- Number of accounts
- Client asset levels
$494
12%
98%
Transaction and Fee
- Trades
- Client (Investor) Accounts
- Advisor Seat and Technology
- Client activity
- Number of clients
- Number of advisors
- Number of accounts
- Premium technology subscribers
$402
9%
62%
Other
- Margin accounts
- Alternative investment transactions
$50
1%
35%
 
Total Net Revenue
$4,275
100%
 
 
Total Recurring Revenue
$3,058
72%
 

35



How We Evaluate Our Business
We focus on several business and key financial metrics in evaluating the success of our business relationships and our resulting financial position and operating performance. Our business and key financial metrics are as follows:
 
December 31,
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
Business Metrics
 
 
 
 
 
Advisory and brokerage assets (in billions)(1)
$
475.6

 
$
475.1

 
$
438.4

Advisory assets under custody (in billions)(1)(2)
$
187.2

 
$
175.8

 
$
151.6

Net new advisory assets (in billions)(3)
$
16.7

 
$
17.5

 
$
14.6

Insured cash account balances (in billions)(1)
$
20.9

 
$
18.6

 
$
17.4

Money market account balances (in billions)(1)
$
8.1

 
$
7.4

 
$
7.5

Advisors(4)
14,054

 
14,036

 
13,673

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Years Ended December 31,
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
Financial Metrics
 
 
 
 
 
Revenue growth from prior year
(2.3
)%
 
5.6
%
 
13.1
%
Recurring revenue as a % of net revenue
71.5
 %
 
68.3
%
 
64.7
%
Pre-Tax income (in thousands)
$
282,555

 
$
294,697

 
$
291,303

Pre-Tax earnings per share (diluted)
$
2.92

 
$
2.90

 
$
2.75

Net income (in thousands)
$
168,784

 
$
178,043

 
$
181,857

Earnings per share (diluted)
$
1.74

 
$
1.75

 
$
1.72

Non-GAAP Measures:
 
 
 
 
 
Gross profit (in thousands)(5)
$
1,357,725

 
$
1,325,945

 
$
1,248,014

Gross profit as a % of net revenue
31.8
 %
 
30.3
%
 
30.1
%
Adjusted EBITDA (in thousands)
$
489,116

 
$
516,507

 
$
511,438

Adjusted EBITDA as a % of net revenue
11.4
 %
 
11.8
%
 
12.4
%
Adjusted EBITDA as a % of gross profit
36.0
 %
 
39.0
%
 
41.0
%
Adjusted Earnings (in thousands)
$
214,854

 
$
247,621

 
$
258,805

Adjusted Earnings per share (diluted)
$
2.22

 
$
2.44

 
$
2.44

____________________
(1)
Advisory and brokerage assets are comprised of assets that are custodied, networked, and non-networked and reflect market movement in addition to new assets. Insured cash account and money market account balances are also included in advisory and brokerage assets. Set forth below are other client assets at December 31 of 2015, 2014 , and 2013 , from which we generate commissions but that are custodied with third-party providers and therefore excluded from advisory and brokerage assets (in billions):
 
December 31,
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
Retirement plan assets(a)
$
83.0

 
$
80.3

 
$
60.6

Trust assets
$
1.0

 
$
3.0

 
$
10.6

High-net-worth assets
$
88.9

 
$
87.3

 
$
73.9

_______________________
(a) Retirement plan assets are held in retirement plans that are supported by advisors licensed with LPL Financial. At December 31, 2015 , 2014 and 2013 , our retirement plan assets represent those assets that are custodied with third-party providers of retirement plan administrative services who provide reporting feeds. We estimate the total assets in retirement plans supported to be approximately $118.0 billion at December 31, 2015 . If we receive reporting feeds in the future from providers for whom we do not currently receive feeds, we intend to include and identify such additional assets in this metric. Such additional feeds since December 31, 2014 , accounted for $3.8 billion of the total retirement plan assets.

36



(2)
Advisory assets under custody are comprised of advisory assets under management in our corporate RIA platform, and Hybrid RIA assets in advisory accounts custodied by us. See “Results of Operations” for a tabular presentation of advisory assets under custody.
(3)
Represents net new advisory assets consisting of funds from new accounts and additional funds deposited into existing advisory accounts that are custodied in our fee-based advisory platforms.
(4)
Advisors are defined as those independent financial advisors and financial advisors at financial institutions who are licensed to do business with the Company's broker-dealer subsidiary.
(5)
Gross profit is calculated as net revenues less production expenses. Production expenses consist of the following expense categories from our consolidated statements of income: (i) commission and advisory and (ii) brokerage, clearing, and exchange. All other expense categories, including depreciation and amortization, are considered general and administrative in nature. Because our gross profit amounts do not include any depreciation and amortization expense, we consider our gross profit amounts to be non-GAAP measures that may not be comparable to those of others in our industry.
Adjusted EBITDA
Adjusted EBITDA is defined as EBITDA (net income plus interest expense, income tax expense, depreciation, and amortization), further adjusted to exclude certain non-cash charges and other adjustments set forth below. We present Adjusted EBITDA, which can be a useful financial metric in assessing our historical operating performance from period to period by excluding certain items that we believe are not representative of our core business, such as certain material non-cash items and other adjustments.
We believe that Adjusted EBITDA, viewed in addition to, and not in lieu of, our reported GAAP results, can provide useful information to investors regarding our historical performance and overall results of operations for the following reasons:
because non-cash equity grants made to employees, officers, and non-employee directors at a certain price and point in time do not necessarily reflect how our business is performing at any particular time, share-based compensation expense is not a key measure of our operating performance; and
because costs associated with acquisitions and the resulting integrations, debt refinancing, restructuring and conversions, and equity issuance and related offering costs can vary from period to period and transaction to transaction, expenses associated with these activities are not considered a key measure of our operating performance.
We use Adjusted EBITDA:
as a measure of operating performance;
for planning purposes, including the preparation of budgets and forecasts;
to allocate resources to enhance the financial performance of our business;
to evaluate the effectiveness of our business strategies;
in communications with our board of directors concerning our financial performance; and
as a factor in determining employee and executive bonuses.
Adjusted EBITDA is a non-GAAP measure and does not purport to be an alternative to net income as a measure of operating performance or to cash flows from operating activities as a measure of liquidity. Adjusted EBITDA is not a measure of net income, operating income, or any other performance measure derived in accordance with GAAP.
Adjusted EBITDA has limitations as an analytical tool and should not be considered in isolation, or as a substitute for analysis of our results as reported under GAAP. Some of these limitations are:
Adjusted EBITDA does not reflect all cash expenditures, future requirements for capital expenditures, or contractual commitments;
Adjusted EBITDA does not reflect changes in, or cash requirements for, working capital needs; 
Adjusted EBITDA does not reflect the significant interest expense, or the cash requirements necessary to service interest or principal payments, on our debt; and
Adjusted EBITDA can differ significantly from company to company depending on long-term strategic decisions regarding capital structure, the tax jurisdictions in which companies operate and capital investments, limiting its usefulness as a comparative measure.
Adjusted EBITDA should not be considered as a measure of discretionary cash available to us to invest in our business. We compensate for these limitations by relying primarily on the GAAP results and using Adjusted EBITDA as supplemental information.

37



Set forth below is a reconciliation from our net income to Adjusted EBITDA, a non-GAAP measure, for the years ended December 31, 2015 , 2014 , and 2013 (in thousands):
 
Years Ended December 31,
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
Net income
$
168,784

 
$
178,043

 
$
181,857

Non-operating interest expense
59,136

 
51,538

 
51,446

Provision for income taxes
113,771

 
116,654

 
109,446

Amortization of intangible assets
38,239

 
38,868

 
39,006

Depreciation and amortization
73,383

 
57,977

 
44,497

EBITDA
453,313

 
443,080

 
426,252

EBITDA Adjustments:
 
 
 
 
 
Employee share-based compensation expense(1)
23,296

 
21,246

 
15,434

Acquisition and integration related expenses(2)
50

 
1,414

 
19,890

Restructuring and conversion costs(3)
11,976

 
34,783

 
30,812

Debt amendment and extinguishment costs(4)

 
4,361

 
7,968

Other(5)
481

 
11,623

 
11,082

Total EBITDA Adjustments
35,803

 
73,427

 
85,186

Adjusted EBITDA
$
489,116

 
$
516,507

 
$
511,438

___________________
(1)
Represents share-based compensation expenses for equity awards granted to employees, officers, and directors. Such awards are measured based on the grant-date fair value and recognized over the requisite service period of the individual awards, which generally equals the vesting period.
(2)
Represents acquisition and integration costs resulting from various acquisitions, including changes in the estimated fair value of future payments, or contingent consideration that may be required to be made to former shareholders of certain acquired entities.
(3)
Represents organizational restructuring charges, conversion, and other related costs primarily resulting from the expansion of our Service Value Commitment initiative. Results for 2015 also include charges related to the restructuring of the business of our subsidiary, Fortigent Holdings Company, Inc. (together with its subsidiaries, "Fortigent")
(4)
Represents expenses incurred resulting from the early extinguishment and repayment of amounts outstanding on our prior senior secured credit facilities, including the accelerated recognition of unamortized debt issuance costs that had no future economic benefit, as well as various other charges incurred in connection with the repayment under prior senior secured credit facilities and the establishment of new or amended senior secured credit facilities.
(5)
Results for the year ended December 31, 2014 include approximately $9.6 million in parallel rent, property tax, common area maintenance expenses, and fixed asset disposals incurred in connection with our relocation to our San Diego office building. Results for the year ended December 31, 2013 include costs related to the closure of our former subsidiary, NestWise, LLC (the "NestWise Closure"), consisting of: i) the derecognition of $10.2 million of goodwill; ii) $8.4 million of fixed asset charges that were determined to have no future economic benefit; iii) severance and termination benefits; and iv) a $9.3 million decrease in the estimated fair value of contingent consideration as related milestones were not achieved. Results for the year ended December 31, 2013 also include $2.7 million of severance and termination benefits related to a change in management structure and a $2.3 million gain related to the sale of an equity investment.
Adjusted Earnings and Adjusted Earnings per share
We present Adjusted Earnings and Adjusted Earnings per share, which can be useful financial metrics for assessing our historical operating performance by excluding the effects of certain items that we believe are not representative of our core business.
Adjusted Earnings represents net income before: (a) employee share-based compensation expense, (b) amortization of intangible assets, (c) acquisition and integration related expenses, (d) restructuring and conversion costs, (e) debt extinguishment costs and (f) other. Reconciling items are tax effected using the income tax rates in effect for the applicable period, adjusted for any potentially non-deductible amounts.

38



Adjusted Earnings per share represents Adjusted Earnings divided by weighted-average outstanding shares on a fully diluted basis. Adjusted Earnings and Adjusted Earnings per share, viewed in addition to, and not in lieu of, our reported GAAP results can provide useful information to investors regarding our performance and overall results of operations for the following reasons:
because non-cash equity grants made to employees, officers, and non-employee directors at a certain price and point in time do not necessarily reflect how our business is performing, the related share-based compensation expense is not a key measure of our current operating performance;
because costs associated with acquisitions and related integrations, debt refinancing, and restructuring and conversions can vary from period to period and transaction to transaction, expenses associated with these activities are not considered a key measure of our operating performance; and
because amortization expenses can vary substantially from company to company and from period to period depending upon each company’s financing and accounting methods, the fair value and average expected life of acquired intangible assets and the method by which assets were acquired, the amortization of intangible assets obtained in acquisitions is not considered a key measure in comparing our operating performance.
We believe Adjusted Earnings and Adjusted Earnings per share can also be useful to investors in evaluating our historical operating performance because securities analysts have used them and may continue to use them as supplemental measures to evaluate the overall performance of companies, and our investor and analyst presentations, which are generally available to investors through our website, include references to Adjusted Earnings and Adjusted Earnings per share.
Adjusted Earnings and Adjusted Earnings per share are not measures of our financial performance under GAAP and should not be considered as an alternative to net income or earnings per share or any other performance measure derived in accordance with GAAP, or as an alternative to cash flows from operating activities as a measure of our profitability or liquidity.
Although Adjusted Earnings and Adjusted Earnings per share are frequently used by securities analysts and others in their evaluation of companies, they have limitations as analytical tools, and you should not consider Adjusted Earnings and Adjusted Earnings per share in isolation, or as substitutes for an analysis of our results as reported under GAAP. In particular you should consider:
Adjusted Earnings and Adjusted Earnings per share do not reflect our cash expenditures, or future requirements for capital expenditures or contractual commitments;
Adjusted Earnings and Adjusted Earnings per share do not reflect changes in, or cash requirements for, our working capital needs; and
Other companies in our industry may calculate Adjusted Earnings and Adjusted Earnings per share differently than we do, limiting their usefulness as comparative measures.
Management compensates for the inherent limitations associated with using Adjusted Earnings and Adjusted Earnings per share through disclosure of such limitations, presentation of our financial statements in accordance with GAAP and reconciliation of Adjusted Earnings to the most directly comparable GAAP measure, net income.

39



The following table sets forth a reconciliation of net income to non-GAAP measures Adjusted Earnings and Adjusted Earnings per share for the years ended December 31, 2015 , 2014 , and 2013 (in thousands, except per share data):
 
Years Ended December 31,
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
Net income
$
168,784

 
$
178,043

 
$
181,857

After-Tax:
 
 
 
 
 
EBITDA Adjustments
 
 
 
 
 
Employee share-based compensation expense(1)
14,912

 
14,175

 
11,109

Acquisition and integration related expenses(2)
31

 
366

 
10,919

Restructuring and conversion costs
7,353

 
21,357

 
19,011

Debt amendment and extinguishment costs

 
2,678

 
4,916

Other(3)
295

 
7,137

 
6,926

Total EBITDA Adjustments
22,591

 
45,713

 
52,881

Amortization of intangible assets
23,479

 
23,865

 
24,067

Adjusted Earnings
$
214,854

 
$
247,621

 
$
258,805

Adjusted Earnings per share(4)
$
2.22

 
$
2.44

 
$
2.44

Weighted-average shares outstanding — diluted
96,786

 
101,651

 
106,003

_____________________
Generally, EBITDA Adjustments and amortization of intangible assets have been tax effected for those items for which we receive a tax deduction using a federal rate of 35.0% and the applicable effective state rate, which was 3.6%, 3.6% and 3.3%, net of the federal tax benefit, for the years ended December 31, 2015 , 2014 , and 2013 , respectively. Items for which we did not receive a tax deduction are included below.
(1)
Includes the impact of incentive stock options granted to employees that qualify for preferential tax treatment and conversely for which we do not receive a tax deduction.
(2)
The results for the year ended December 31, 2013 include reductions of expense of $3.8 million relating to the estimated fair value of contingent consideration for the stock acquisition of Concord Capital Partners, Inc., that are not deductible for tax purposes.
(3)
The results for the year ended December 31, 2013 Includes the impact of: i) the derecognition of $10.2 million of goodwill and ii) a $9.3 million decrease in the estimated fair value of contingent consideration related to the NestWise Closure that occurred during the year ended December 31, 2013 for which we did not receive a tax deduction.
(4)
Represents Adjusted Earnings, a non-GAAP measure, divided by weighted-average number of shares outstanding on a fully diluted basis. Set forth below is a reconciliation of earnings per share on a fully diluted basis, as calculated in accordance with GAAP to Adjusted Earnings per share:
 
Years Ended December 31,
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
Earnings per share — diluted
$
1.74

 
$
1.75

 
$
1.72

After-Tax:
 
 
 
 
 
EBITDA Adjustments per share
0.24

 
0.45

 
0.49

Amortization of intangible assets per share
0.24

 
0.24

 
0.23

Adjusted Earnings per share
$
2.22

 
$
2.44

 
$
2.44

Legal & Regulatory Matters
As a regulated entity, we are subject to regulatory oversight and inquiries related to, among other items, our compliance and supervisory systems and procedures and other controls, as well as our disclosures, supervision and reporting. The ongoing environment of additional regulation, increased regulatory compliance obligations, and enhanced regulatory enforcement has resulted in additional operational and compliance costs, as well as increased costs in the form of fines, restitution, and remediation related to regulatory matters. In the ordinary course of business, we periodically identify or become aware of purported inadequacies, deficiencies, and other issues. It is our policy to evaluate these matters for potential securities law or regulatory violations, and other potential compliance issues. It is also our policy to self-report known violations and issues as required by applicable law and

40



regulation. When deemed probable that matters may result in financial losses, we accrue for those losses based on an estimate of possible fines, customer restitution, and losses related to the repurchase of sold securities and other losses, as applicable. Certain regulatory and other legal claims and losses may be covered through our wholly-owned captive insurance subsidiary, which is chartered with the insurance commissioner in the state of Tennessee. Our ability to estimate such costs may vary based on the current stage of evaluation and status of discussion with regulators, as applicable. 
Our accruals, including those established through the captive insurance company, at December 31, 2015 include estimated costs for significant regulatory matters, generally relating to the adequacy of our compliance and supervisory systems and procedures and other controls, for which we believe losses are both probable and reasonably estimable. One of the matters relates to sales of certain securities over several years, and our accrual at December 31, 2015 includes an estimate for the loss we expect to incur in resolving this matter including if we were to repurchase certain affected securities at their original sales prices. 
The outcome of regulatory matters could result in legal liability, regulatory fines, or monetary penalties in excess of our accruals and insurance, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, or financial condition. For more information on management’s loss contingency policies, see Note 13 . Commitments and Contingencies , within the notes to the consolidated financial statements.
Our Service Value Commitment Initiative
Our Service Value Commitment initiative was a multi-year effort to position us for sustainable long-term growth by improving the service experience of our advisors and delivering efficiencies in our operating model. We assessed our information technology delivery, governance, organization and strategy, and committed to undertake a course of action to reposition our labor force and invest in technology, human capital, marketing, and other key areas to enable future growth.
As of December 31, 2015 , we have incurred $64.9 million of costs related to outsourcing and other related costs, technology transformation costs, employee severance obligations, and other related costs, as well as non-cash charges for impairment of certain fixed assets related to internally developed software. The Program was completed in 2015. See Note 3 . Restructuring , within the notes to the consolidated financial statements for further detail.
Derivative Financial Instruments
In May 2013, we entered into a long-term contractual obligation (the "Agreement") with a third-party provider to enhance the quality and speed and reduce the cost of our processes by outsourcing certain functions. The Agreement enables the third-party provider to use the services of its affiliates in India to provide services to us. The Agreement provides that we settle the cost of our contractual obligation to the third-party provider each month in US dollars. However, the Agreement provides that on each annual anniversary date, the price for services (as denominated in US dollars) is to be adjusted for the then-current exchange rate between the US dollar and the Indian rupee. The Agreement provides that, once an annual adjustment is calculated, there are no further modifications to the amounts paid by us to the third-party provider for fluctuations in the exchange rate until the reset on the next anniversary date. The third-party provider bears the risk of currency movement from the date of signing the Agreement until the reset on the first anniversary of its signing, and during each period until the next annual reset. We bear the risk of currency movement at each annual reset date following the first anniversary.
We use derivative financial instruments consisting solely of non-deliverable foreign currency contracts, all of which have been designated as cash flow hedges. Through these instruments, we believe we have mitigated foreign currency risk arising from a substantial portion of our contract obligation with the third-party provider arising from annual anniversary adjustments. We will continue to assess the effectiveness of our use of cash flow hedges to mitigate risk from foreign currency contracts.
See Note 2 . Summary of Significant Accounting Policies and Note 9 . Derivative Financial Instruments , within the notes to consolidated financial statements for additional information regarding our derivative financial instruments.
Acquisitions, Integrations, and Divestitures
From time to time we undertake acquisitions or divestitures based on opportunities in the competitive landscape. These activities are part of our overall growth strategy, but can distort comparability when reviewing revenue and expense trends for periods presented.

41



In August 2013, we ceased the operations of our former subsidiary, NestWise, LLC ("NestWise"). In connection with the NestWise Closure, we determined that a majority of the assets held at NestWise, comprised primarily of $10.2 million of goodwill and $8.4 million of fixed assets stemming from the 2012 acquisition of Veritat Advisors, Inc. ("Veritat"), had no future economic benefit and were derecognized beginning in the third quarter of 2013. Additionally, we decreased the amount of contingent consideration due to former shareholders of Veritat by $9.3 million to zero during 2013 as related milestones were not achieved. For the year ended December 31, 2013, the net revenues of NestWise were immaterial and expenses totaled $13.1 million.
Economic Overview and Impact of Financial Market Events
Our business is directly and indirectly sensitive to several macroeconomic factors and the state of financial markets, particularly in the United States. While macroeconomic data in the U.S. continued to point to low odds of a recession, concerns about the impact of low commodity prices and slowing global growth have increased. Financial market indicators have signaled rising levels of financial stress in December 2015 and in the early part of 2016 as uncertainty impacts investor behavior. In the U.S., economic growth has remained fairly steady despite headwinds from slowing growth in manufacturing, largely attributable to decreasing capital expenditures on energy projects; a strong dollar, which has weighed on exports; and concern about some international markets, especially heavy commodity exporters and China. On the positive side, the job market has continued to heal, which has supported consumer spending; services sector growth remained strong; and residential investment has been accelerating, although the pace of new home construction still remains low by historical standards. According to the most recent estimate by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, real gross domestic product ("GDP") growth slowed to a 0.7% annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2015, putting the overall growth rate for 2015 at 1.8%.
Continued U.S. growth, improvements in international economic data, and market participants’ acclimating to the possible start of a rate tightening cycle in the U.S. helped the S&P 500 rebound in the fourth quarter of 2015 from third quarter losses, but gains were largely confined to October as the impact of falling oil prices and a strong dollar on earnings kept investor confidence tempered. Rising concerns in early 2016 have seen domestic equity markets break down below 2015 lows. Further declines in oil prices have continued to put added pressure on credit sensitive bonds and credit spreads have continued to widen. In Treasury markets, the Federal Reserve's December 2015 rate hike pushed short-term Treasury yields modestly higher, but long-term rates have fallen as concerns about global growth increase. Widening credit spreads, a flattening yield curve, and elevated stock market volatility all indicate that investors became considerably more risk averse as 2016 began.
Our business is also sensitive to current and expected short-term interest rates, which are largely driven by Federal Reserve policy. In particular, low short-term rates can weigh on the profitability of our cash sweep program, due to the fee compression needed to keep our rates competitive. Low interest rates and the prospect of rising rates over the long term can also have an impact on demand for fixed and variable annuity products. On December 16, 2015, the Federal Reserve’s policy arm, the Federal Open Market Committee ("FOMC"), announced that it was raising the federal funds rate for the first time in almost ten years, moving the target range from 0.0-0.25% to 0.25-0.50%. The decision was based on the Committee's belief that labor markets had exhibited "considerable improvement" and that factors weighing on inflation were likely transitory, together with expectations that labor markets would continue to improve and that inflation would progress toward the policy target of 2% over the medium term. The statement emphasized that the FOMC expected the path of future rate increases to be gradual and that decisions would continue to be data dependent. Comments by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen since that meeting have indicated rising concern about international conditions, while market-implied expectations of the path of the federal funds rate have fallen and are pricing in a low probability of any additional increases in 2016.

42



Results of Operations
The following discussion presents an analysis of our results of operations for the years ended December 31, 2015 , 2014 , and 2013 . Where appropriate, we have identified specific events and changes that affect comparability or trends, and where possible and practical, have quantified the impact of such items.
 
Years Ended December 31,
 
Percentage Change
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
 
2015 vs. 2014
 
2014 vs. 2013
 
(In thousands)
 
 
 
 
Revenues
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Commission
$
1,976,845

 
$
2,118,494

 
$
2,077,566

 
(6.7
)%
 
2.0
 %
Advisory
1,352,454

 
1,337,959

 
1,187,352

 
1.1
 %
 
12.7
 %
Asset-based
493,687

 
476,595

 
430,990

 
3.6
 %
 
10.6
 %
Transaction and fee
401,948

 
369,821

 
361,252

 
8.7
 %
 
2.4
 %
Other
50,120

 
70,793

 
83,698

 
(29.2
)%
 
(15.4
)%
Net revenues     
4,275,054

 
4,373,662

 
4,140,858

 
(2.3
)%
 
5.6
 %
Expenses
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Production
2,917,329

 
3,047,717

 
2,892,844

 
(4.3
)%
 
5.4
 %
Compensation and benefits
440,049

 
421,829

 
400,967

 
4.3
 %
 
5.2
 %
General and administrative
452,396

 
422,441

 
382,647

 
7.1
 %
 
10.4
 %
Depreciation and amortization
73,383

 
57,977

 
44,497

 
26.6
 %
 
30.3
 %
Amortization of intangible assets
38,239

 
38,868

 
39,006

 
(1.6
)%
 
(0.4
)%
Restructuring charges
11,967

 
34,652

 
30,186

 
(65.5
)%
 
14.8
 %
Total operating expenses     
3,933,363

 
4,023,484

 
3,790,147

 
(2.2
)%
 
6.2
 %
Non-operating interest expense
59,136

 
51,538

 
51,446

 
14.7
 %
 
0.2
 %
Loss on extinguishment of debt

 
3,943

 
7,962

 
(100.0
)%
 
(50.5
)%
Total expenses     
3,992,499

 
4,078,965

 
3,849,555

 
(2.1
)%
 
6.0
 %
Income before provision for income taxes    
282,555

 
294,697

 
291,303

 
(4.1
)%
 
1.2
 %
Provision for income taxes     
113,771

 
116,654

 
109,446

 
(2.5
)%
 
6.6
 %
Net income     
$
168,784

 
$
178,043

 
$
181,857

 
(5.2
)%
 
(2.1
)%

43



Revenues
Commission Revenues
We generate two types of commission revenues: sales-based commissions and trailing commissions. Sales-based commission revenues, which occur whenever clients trade securities or purchase various types of investment products, primarily represent gross commissions generated by our advisors. The levels of sales-based commission revenues can vary from period to period based on the overall economic environment, number of trading days in the reporting period, and investment activity of our advisors' clients. Trailing commission revenues are recurring in nature and are earned based on the market value of investment holdings in trail-eligible assets. We earn trailing commission revenues (a commission that is paid over time, such as 12(b)-1 fees) primarily on mutual funds and variable annuities held by clients of our advisors.
The following table sets forth our commission revenue, by product category, included in our consolidated statements of income for the periods indicated (dollars in thousands):
 
Years Ended December 31,
 
2015 vs. 2014
 
2014 vs. 2013
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
 
$ Change
 
% Change
 
$ Change
 
% Change
Variable annuities
$
774,610

 
$
807,634

 
$
794,898

 
$
(33,024
)
 
(4.1
)%
 
$
12,736

 
1.6
 %
Mutual funds
591,049

 
610,310

 
565,951

 
(19,261
)
 
(3.2
)%
 
44,359

 
7.8
 %
Alternative investments
133,092

 
211,638

 
251,113

 
(78,546
)
 
(37.1
)%
 
(39,475
)
 
(15.7
)%
Fixed annuities
157,975

 
160,287

 
123,882

 
(2,312
)
 
(1.4
)%
 
36,405

 
29.4
 %
Equities
97,505

 
112,091

 
119,569

 
(14,586
)
 
(13.0
)%
 
(7,478
)
 
(6.3
)%
Fixed income
90,940

 
85,882

 
87,243

 
5,058

 
5.9
 %
 
(1,361
)
 
(1.6
)%
Insurance
81,108

 
78,659

 
81,687

 
2,449

 
3.1
 %
 
(3,028
)
 
(3.7
)%
Group annuities
49,890

 
51,250

 
52,275

 
(1,360
)
 
(2.7
)%
 
(1,025
)
 
(2.0
)%
Other
676

 
743

 
948

 
(67
)
 
(9.0
)%
 
(205
)
 
(21.6
)%
Total commission revenue     
$
1,976,845

 
$
2,118,494

 
$
2,077,566

 
$
(141,649
)
 
(6.7
)%
 
$
40,928

 
2.0
 %
The following table sets forth our commission revenue, by sales-based and trailing commission revenue (dollars in thousands):
 
Years Ended December 31,
 
2015 vs. 2014
 
2014 vs. 2013
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
 
$ Change
 
% Change

 
$ Change
 
% Change
Sales-based
$
1,019,602

 
$
1,181,189

 
$
1,254,683

 
$
(161,587
)
 
(13.7
)%
 
$
(73,494
)
 
(5.9
)%
Trailing
957,243

 
937,305

 
822,883

 
19,938

 
2.1
 %
 
114,422

 
13.9
 %
Total commission revenue
$
1,976,845

 
$
2,118,494

 
$
2,077,566

 
$
(141,649
)
 
(6.7
)%
 
$
40,928

 
2.0
 %
The decrease in commission revenue in 2015 compared to 2014 was primarily due to a decrease in sales-based activity for alternative investments, fixed and variable annuities, mutual funds, and equities. Alternative investment sales commissions were challenged throughout the year, in particular non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), due to a maturing real estate cycle and uncertainties regarding upcoming regulatory changes. Significant market volatility and investor uncertainty in the low interest rate environment continued the decline in demand for fixed and variable annuities, mutual funds, and equities.
Trailing revenues are recurring in nature and the slight increase in revenue reflects an increase in the market value of the underlying assets.
The increase in commission revenues in 2014 compared to 2013 was due primarily to an increase in trailing revenue for mutual funds and variable annuities and activity in fixed annuities.
Fixed annuity sales-based commissions rose in 2014 compared to 2013, despite historically low interest rates, as investors have sought income streams with minimal risk to principal. Such benefits attracted the increasing amount of retired investors, and those nearing retirement age, as their investment goals shift from portfolio growth to guaranteed income.
The decrease in alternative investments commission revenue in 2014 as compared to 2013 was primarily due to a higher level of activity during the year ended December 31, 2013, in which commission revenues benefited from liquidity events in several large REITs that allowed for reinvestment into a similar type of investments. Such

44



events resulted in alternative investment commissions during this period being elevated over prior year and subsequent periods.
Advisory Revenues
Advisory revenues primarily represent fees charged on our corporate RIA platform provided through LPL Financial LLC (“LPL Financial”) to clients of our advisors based on the value of their advisory assets. Advisory fees are billed to clients on either a calendar quarter or non-calendar quarter basis of their choice, at the beginning of that period, and are recognized as revenue ratably over the quarter in which they are earned. The value of the assets in an advisory account on the billing date determines the amount billed, and accordingly, the revenues earned in the following three month period. Advisory revenues collected on our corporate RIA platform generally average 1.1% of the underlying assets, and can range anywhere from 0.5% to 3.0%.
We also support Hybrid RIAs, through our Hybrid RIA platform, which allows advisors to engage us for technology, clearing, and custody services, as well as access to the capabilities of our investment platforms. Most financial advisors associated with Hybrid RIAs carry their brokerage license with LPL Financial and access our fully-integrated brokerage platform under standard terms, although some financial advisors associated with Hybrid RIAs do not carry a brokerage license with us. The assets held under a Hybrid RIA's investment advisory accounts custodied with LPL Financial are included in our advisory and brokerage assets, net new advisory assets, and advisory assets under custody metrics. However, the advisory revenue generated by a Hybrid RIA is earned by the Hybrid RIA, and accordingly is not included in our advisory revenue. We charge separate fees to Hybrid RIAs for technology, clearing, administrative, and custody services. The administrative fees collected on our Hybrid RIA platform vary and can reach a maximum of 0.6% of the underlying assets.
Furthermore, we support certain financial advisors at broker-dealers affiliated with insurance companies through our customized advisory platforms and charge fees to these advisors based on the value of assets within these advisory accounts.
The following table summarizes the activity within our advisory assets under custody (in billions):
 
Years Ended December 31,
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
Beginning balance at January 1
$
175.8

 
$
151.6

 
$
122.1

Net new advisory assets
16.7

 
17.5

 
14.6

Market impact
(5.3
)
 
6.7

 
14.9

Ending balance at December 31
$
187.2

 
$
175.8

 
$
151.6

Net new advisory assets for the years ended December 31, 2015 , 2014 , and 2013 had a limited impact on advisory fee revenue for those respective periods. Rather, net new advisory assets are a primary driver of future advisory fee revenue and have resulted from recruiting of new advisors and the continued shift by our existing advisors from brokerage towards more advisory business. With advisory fees for the period calculated based on the ending market value of the immediately preceding period, revenues for any particular quarter are primarily driven by each of the prior quarter's month-end advisory assets under management. The growth in advisory revenue from 2013 to 2014 and in 2015 is due to net new advisory assets resulting from our recruiting efforts and strong advisor productivity, as well as market gains as represented by higher levels of the S&P 500 index.
Assets on our Hybrid RIA platform have been growing rapidly through the recruiting of new advisors and the transition of existing advisors onto that platform. This continued shift of advisors to our Hybrid RIA platform has caused the growth in advisory revenue to appear lagging behind the rate of growth of advisory assets under custody as we earn administrative and other fees discussed above as opposed to advisory fees. 
The following table summarizes the makeup within our advisory assets under custody (in billions):
 
December 31,
 
2015 vs. 2014
 
2014 vs. 2013
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
 
$ Change
 
% Change
 
$ Change
 
% Change

Advisory assets under management
$
121.4

 
$
125.1

 
$
117.6

 
$
(3.7
)
 
(3.0
)%
 
$
7.5

 
6.4
%
Hybrid RIA assets in advisory accounts custodied by LPL Financial
65.8

 
50.7

 
34

 
15.1

 
29.8
 %
 
16.7

 
49.1
%
Total advisory assets under custody
$
187.2

 
$
175.8

 
$
151.6

 
$
11.4

 
6.5
 %
 
$
24.2

 
16.0
%

45



Asset-Based Revenues
Asset-based revenues are comprised of our sponsorship programs with financial product manufacturers, omnibus processing and networking services, and fees from cash sweep programs. We receive fees from certain financial product manufacturers in connection with sponsorship programs that support our marketing and sales education and training efforts. Omnibus processing revenues are paid to us by mutual fund product sponsors and are based on the value of custodied assets in advisory accounts and the number of brokerage accounts in which the related mutual fund positions are held. Networking revenues on brokerage assets are correlated to the number of positions we administer and are paid to us by mutual fund and annuity product manufacturers. Pursuant to contractual arrangements, uninvested cash balances in our advisors’ client accounts are swept into either insured cash accounts at various banks or third-party money market funds, for which we receive fees, including administrative and recordkeeping fees based on account type and the invested balances.
Asset-based revenues for the year ended December 31, 2015 increased to $493.7 million, or 3.6% from $476.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2014. The increase is due to increased fees from omnibus processing services resulting from higher average market indices on the value of those underlying assets and increased revenues from product sponsors related to favorable terms on renegotiated contracts, partially offset by decreased revenues from our cash sweep programs. Cash sweep revenue decreased to $95.3 million in 2015 from $99.7 million in 2014 due to fee compression that resulted from a repricing of certain contracts that underlie our cash sweep programs, partially offset by an increase in average assets in our cash sweep programs as investors increased the balances of their assets held in cash in response to the volatility in the financial markets. As of December 31, 2015, our cash sweep assets had grown to $29.0 billion from $26.0 billion as of December 31, 2014, with average cash sweep assets of $25.8 billion and $23.9 billion during the years ended December 31, 2015 and 2014, respectively. The increases in average asset balances were offset by a slight decrease in our average cash sweep yield from 42 basis points to 37 basis points for the years ended December 31, 2015 and 2014, respectively.
Asset-based revenues for the year ended December 31, 2014 increased to $476.6 million, or 10.6% from $431.0 million for the year ended December 31, 2013. The increase is due to increased fees from omnibus processing services and product sponsors resulting from higher average market indices on the value of those underlying assets and net new sales of eligible assets, partially offset by decreased revenues from our cash sweep programs. The decrease in cash sweep revenue is due to fee compression that resulted from a re-pricing of certain contracts that underlie our cash sweep programs, a year-over-year 2 basis points decline in the average federal funds effective rate to 0.09%, and a decrease in average assets in our cash sweep programs for the year ended December 31, 2014 .
Transaction and Fee Revenues
Transaction revenues primarily include fees we charge to our advisors and their clients for executing certain transactions in brokerage and fee-based advisory accounts. Fee revenues primarily include Individual Retirement Account (“IRA”) custodian fees, contract and licensing fees, and other client account fees. In addition, we host certain advisor conferences that serve as training, education, sales, and marketing events, for which we charge a fee for attendance.
Transaction and fee revenues increased in 2015 compared to 2014 primarily due to higher transaction volumes on eligible trades and fees generated from the introduction of our home office supervisory program.
The primary contributing factor for the increase in transaction and fee revenues in 2014 compared to 2013 was a 2.7% increase in the average number of advisors during the year.
Other Revenues and Interest Income, net of Interest Expense
Other revenues primarily include marketing allowances received from certain financial product manufacturers, primarily those who offer alternative investments, such as non-traded REITs and business development companies, mark-to-market gains or losses on assets held by us for the advisor non-qualified deferred compensation plan and our model research portfolios, interest income from client margin accounts and cash equivalents, net of operating interest expense, and other miscellaneous revenues.
Other revenues decreased in 2015 compared to 2014 primarily due to decreases in alternative investment marketing allowances of $14.8 million associated with a 37% decline in related sales. The remainder of the decrease was primarily the result of a change to a $3.0 million loss in 2015 from a $2.1 million gain in 2014 in realized and unrealized gains/losses on approximately $100.7 million of assets held in our advisor non-qualified deferred compensation plan. The primary driver of the loss was due to market performance on the underlying investment allocations chosen by advisors in the plan.

46



Other revenues decreased in 2014 compared to 2013 primarily due to decreases in alternative investment marketing allowances associated with a 16% decline in related sales. The remainder of the decrease was primarily the result of a change in realized and unrealized gains/losses on assets held in our advisor non-qualified deferred compensation plan due to market performance on the underlying investment allocations chosen by advisors in the plan.
Expenses
Production Expenses
Production expenses are comprised of the following: base payout amounts that are earned by and paid out to advisors and institutions based on commission and advisory revenues earned on each client's account (collectively, commission and advisory revenues earned by LPL Financial are referred to as gross dealer concessions, or “GDC”); production bonuses earned by advisors and institutions based on the levels of commission and advisory revenues they produce; the recognition of share-based compensation expense from equity awards granted to advisors and financial institutions based on the fair value of the awards at each reporting period; the deferred commissions and advisory fee expenses associated with mark-to-market gains or losses on the non-qualified deferred compensation plan offered to our advisors; and brokerage, clearing, and exchange fees.
The decrease in production expenses for 2015 compared with 2014 correlates with the changes in our commission and advisory revenues during the same period.
The increase in production expenses for 2014 compared with 2013 correlates with the changes in our commission and advisory revenues during the same period.
Our production payout ratio is calculated as production expenses, excluding brokerage, clearing, and exchange fees, divided by GDC. The following table shows the components of our production payout and total payout ratios, which are non-GAAP measures:
 
Years Ended December 31,
 
Change
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
 
2015 vs. 2014
 
2014 vs. 2013
Base payout rate
83.22
%
 
83.71
%
 
84.04
%
 
(49) bps

 
(33) bps

Production based bonuses
2.72
%
 
2.79
%
 
2.69
%
 
(7) bps

 
10 bps

GDC sensitive payout
85.94
%
 
86.50
%
 
86.73
%
 
(56) bps

 
(23) bps

Non-GDC sensitive payout
0.11
%
 
0.26
%
 
0.51
%
 
(15) bps

 
(25) bps

Total Payout Ratio
86.05
%
 
86.76
%
 
87.24
%
 
(71) bps

 
(48) bps

Compensation and Benefits Expense
Compensation and benefits expense includes salaries and wages and related employee benefits and taxes for our employees (including share-based compensation), as well as compensation for temporary employees and consultants.
 
Years Ended December 31,
 
Change
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
 
2015 vs. 2014
 
2014 vs. 2013
Average Number of Employees
3,382
 
3,337
 
3,047

 
1.3%
 
9.5%
The increase in compensation and benefits for 2015 compared with 2014 was primarily driven by increases in salary that reflects our annual merit pay increase cycle and group health insurance costs combined with the increase in the average number of employees.
The increase in compensation and benefits for 2014 compared with 2013 was a result of the growth in our average number of full-time employees and the salary and group health insurance costs associated with such growth. Additionally, offsetting the increase in compensation and benefits were reduced levels in temporary labor services and a lower base in the discretionary bonus in 2014 compared with 2013 .
General and Administrative Expenses
General and administrative expenses include promotional, occupancy and equipment, professional services, communications and data processing, and other expenses. Promotional expenses include costs related to our hosting of certain advisor conferences that serve as training, sales, and marketing events, as well as business development costs related to recruiting, such as transition assistance and amortization related to forgivable loans

47



issued to advisors. Included in other expenses are the estimated costs of the investigation, settlement, and resolution of regulatory matters, licensing fees, insurance, broker-dealer regulator fees, and other miscellaneous expenses.
The following table details our General and Administrative expenses included in our consolidated statements of income for the periods indicated (dollars in thousands):
 
 
December 31,
 
2015 vs. 2014
 
2014 vs. 2013
 
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
 
$ Change
 
% Change
 
$ Change
 
% Change
Promotional
 
$
139,198

 
$
124,677

 
$
111,539

 
$
14,521

 
11.6
%
 
$
13,138

 
11.8
 %
Occupancy and equipment
 
84,112

 
82,430

 
67,551

 
1,682

 
2.0
%
 
14,879

 
22.0
 %
Professional services
 
64,522

 
62,184

 
46,559

 
2,338

 
3.8
%
 
15,625

 
33.6
 %
Communications and data processing
 
46,871

 
43,823

 
43,075

 
3,048

 
7.0
%
 
748

 
1.7
 %
Other
 
117,693

 
109,327

 
113,923

 
8,366

 
7.7
%
 
(4,596
)
 
(4.0
)%
Total General and Administrative Expenses
 
$
452,396

 
$
422,441

 
$
382,647

 
$
29,955

 
7.1
%
 
$
39,794

 
10.4
 %
The increase in general and administrative expenses for 2015 compared to 2014 was primarily driven by increases in business development and promotional expenses associated with advisor transition assistance and broker training and education. The increase in other expenses was primarily driven by increases in insurance expense.
The increase in general and administrative expenses for 2014 compared with 2013 included $11.6 million for estimated costs of the investigation, settlement, and resolution of regulatory matters, and $9.6 million for parallel rent, property tax, common area maintenance expenses, and fixed asset disposals incurred in connection with the relocation to our San Diego office building. Additionally, other expenses for the year ended December 31, 2013 include the derecognition of certain fixed assets of $8.4 million and goodwill of $10.2 million, incurred as a result of the NestWise Closure.
Depreciation and Amortization Expense
Depreciation and amortization expense represents the benefits received for using long-lived assets. Those assets consist of fixed assets, which include internally developed software, hardware, leasehold improvements, and other equipment.
The increase in depreciation and amortization in 2015 compared to 2014 and in 2014 compared to 2013 was due to the capital expenditures in 2014 related to the relocation to our San Diego office building and the increased levels of continuing development of capitalized software.
Amortization of Intangible assets
Amortization of intangible assets is consistent over prior periods and represents the benefits received for using long-lived assets, which consist of intangible assets established through our acquisitions.
Restructuring Charges
Restructuring charges primarily represent expenses incurred as a result of our completion of our Service Value Commitment initiative. These charges relate primarily to consulting fees paid to support our technology transformation as well as employee severance obligations and other related costs and non-cash charges for impairment. Also, included in the restructuring charges are expenses incurred as part of our Fortigent restructuring. Refer to Note 3 . Restructuring , within the notes to the consolidated financial statements for additional details.
Non-Operating Interest Expense
Non-operating interest expense represents expense for our senior secured credit facilities. Period over period variances correspond to changes in the level of outstanding indebtedness relating to these facilities.
Loss on Extinguishment of Debt
In October 2014, we amended the maturity date of certain credit facilities in our previous credit agreement and effectively increased our revolving credit facility by $150.0 million. The amendment was accounted for as a partial modification and debt extinguishment, which required that we accelerate the recognition of $3.9 million of

48



related unamortized debt issuance costs that had no future economic benefit, and recognize that amount as a loss on extinguishment of debt.
In May 2013, we refinanced and amended our previous credit agreement and effectively increased our borrowing by $236.1 million, with net proceeds used primarily to pay down $150 million in revolving credit borrowings and for share repurchases. The amendment was accounted for as a partial modification and debt extinguishment, which required that we accelerate the recognition of $8.0 million of related unamortized debt issuance costs that had no future economic benefit, and recognize that amount as a loss on extinguishment of debt.
Provision for Income Taxes
Our effective income tax rate was 40.3% , 39.6% , and 37.6% for 2015 , 2014 , and 2013 , respectively. The increase in our effective tax rate and income tax expense in 2015 compared to 2014 is primarily due to change in estimates in unrecognized tax positions.
The increase in our effective tax rate and income tax expense for 2014 compared to 2013 was primary due to a release of the valuation allowance, larger than usual incentive stock option disqualifying dispositions, and utilization of a business energy tax credit in 2013.
Liquidity and Capital Resources
Senior management establishes our liquidity and capital policies. These policies include senior management’s review of short- and long-term cash flow forecasts, review of monthly capital expenditures, and daily monitoring of liquidity for our subsidiaries. Decisions on the allocation of capital are based upon, among other things, projected profitability and cash flow, risks of the business, regulatory capital requirements, and future liquidity needs for strategic activities. Our Treasury Department assists in evaluating, monitoring, and controlling the business activities that impact our financial condition, liquidity and capital structure and maintains relationships with various lenders. The objectives of these policies are to support the executive business strategies while ensuring ongoing and sufficient liquidity.
A summary of changes in cash flow data is provided below (in thousands):
 
Years Ended December 31,
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
Net cash flows provided by (used in):
 
 
 
 
 
Operating activities
$
279,451

 
$
232,242

 
$
160,117

Investing activities
(74,948
)
 
(93,132
)
 
(74,809
)
Financing activities
107,694

 
(243,362
)
 
(34,985
)