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Episode 26: Cara Dailey (LPL Financial) + Key Takeaways

Cara Dailey joins Season 3 of the Leading Analytics Podcast to share some of her early experiences as Chief Data Officer at LPL Financial. In this far-ranging conversation, you’ll hear about the areas the data and analytics team at LPL Financial is having the most impact. Hint, it’s all about the customer. We dive into talent retention, data governance, AI and team culture. Cara also shares a few of her top influencers and advice for folks just joining the analytics movement as professionals!

Key Takeaways

Describe your title and role. Where does your function report within the organization?

I am the firm's Chief Data Officer. I report directly to the head of business development, and he reports directly to our CEO. I do have Enterprise responsibilities. So, while the function reports into business development, we look broadly across the enterprise around data and analytics. This is a great fit because it ties so tightly to our corporate strategy function, which also sits in business development.

What are the most important application areas at LPL? Which business partners do you work with most?

Enhancing our personalization and how we engage with our customers and clients is one of the richest, most opportunistic areas. So, looking at customer engagement through the lens of data and analytics. I'm building relationships with many of the business heads across the organization. Sales, marketing, our customer care organization. We're focused on the front of the business and how we serve our clients. We are also building out an enhanced capability for data governance, and that leads me to the risk side of the organization. So, engaging with our risk partners, our audit, our security and privacy teams. Our strategy for data and analytics is both an offensive and defensive strategy.

What is your talent strategy for data and analytics personnel?

Holding on to talent should be every leader's top priority. It's not always about better compensation or benefits. It's also about how are you going to make their lives richer? And what can we help teach them that can develop their skill sets and their careers at LPL? Everybody wants to feel valued. Giving team members opportunities to personally develop and embracing a servant leadership model around enabling people to execute in high-performing teams has been a secret to retention across my team. Also, implanting empathy as a growth value in your organization's understanding of what it's like to walk in the shoes of someone else. Having a growth mindset and education sessions around leading with empathy is also important for retaining talent.

To what extent does LPL use advanced technologies such as AI and machine learning?

LPL is at the beginning of a modern tool selection journey. We have some machine-learning models that we built ourselves. However, there's a lot of opportunity on the AI side of the house to bring in technology that can help accelerate our efforts. On the AI side, there are so many great tech startups out there that I talk to frequently. To couple with that technology, we're also thinking about what it's going to take for the organization to learn how to use those tools.

What barriers to adoption do you see for advanced technologies?

It goes back to skill set. Do you have the right skills to use this technology? And if you don't, can you teach them? Or can you bring in external resources to help? That's going to be one of the biggest hurdles in terms of adopting some of this new technology. The bigger challenge is going to be, how do we implement a strong data literacy program so people understand their data—how it's organized, how it's defined, and its quality—and then also bring in a set of new tools that are more modern. How to adapt those tools and make it easy?

What advice would you give to aspiring analytics professionals?

Find what you like, what you're passionate about, and go deep in it, and then pull up and start to say, okay, what are the ancillary, general skills that I need to propel my career forward? Go deep and then go wide. Gain skills around areas such as leading large teams, servant leadership, Agile, and digital transformation.

I get a lot of really good content on the groups that I follow on LinkedIn. There are great white papers out there. I follow Barr Moses, who is the cofounder of Monte Carlo. She's got great insight into the role of the CDO and the challenges that we face. Doug Laney is also a great author.

For more insights from Cara, listen to the full podcast.