Reports that LPL Financial may be shopping around for potential buyers came as an unwelcome shock to some of the leaders of the firm's largest enterprises who collectively make up nearly 20% of its 14,000 advisers.

Defections among these offices of supervisory jurisdiction, or OSJs, could have a destabilizing effect on the country's largest independent broker-dealer, which has been struggling with depressed profits as regulatory pressures suppress its commission income.

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