From the August 2013 issue of Research Magazine • Subscribe!

LPL Financial Expanding Retirement-Plan Platform

LPL Financial says it has beefed up its retirement planning platform with tools for financial advisors and plan participants from Morningstar Associates, Financial Finesse and Wealth Management Systems. With these new tools, the Worksite Financial Solutions platform, which LPL launched in early March, can serve as a more effective “end-to-end solution” for retirement plan sponsors and advisors, according to the independent broker-dealer, while better meeting the needs of plan participants with tools for financial education, personalized advice and account-transition services. 

“Through our launch of Worksite Financial Solutions, we are seeking to completely reinvent the world of retirement plan financial advice, in order to counteract the current inadequate and fragmented system of retirement planning prevalent at so many workplaces in America today,” explained Bill Chetney, executive vice president of LPL Financial Retirement Partners, in a press release. “We are tremendously excited to work with some of the most outstanding and forward-thinking service providers in the industry, in order to give our nation’s workers the tools and resources they need to plan for all stages of their financial lives, including retirement, and to make our vision become a reality.”

LPL rolled out the Retirement Partners Group, to recognize and support top financial advisors focused on advising retirement plans for corporate clients. The group was launched with 87 advisor members, who advise 4,000 retirement plans with nearly $40 billion in assets. It is staffed by about 65 LPL employees. Of LPL’s 13,300 affiliated reps, about 1,400 have five or more retirement plans in their books of business, the independent broker-dealer said earlier this year. For most reps, this market represents about 25% or more of their total sales.

For the Worksite Financial Solutions platform, LPL’s partners are contributing the following enhancements:

  • Morningstar is sharing its technology for the Employee Advice Solution, which lets advisors provide participants with personalized investment strategies; plan advisors can pick a strategist from choices on the platform to run the portfolio assignment process and deliver in-plan participant advice; and investors can choose ongoing professional investment-management or point-in-time advice.
  • Financial Finesse is providing financial-wellness content, which aims to help employees develop better financial habits and behaviors; its Financial Learning Center can give workers personalized assessments of their financial wellness, along with a detailed plan to help them improve their finances; plan sponsors receive aggregated reporting on the financial wellness of their workforce; and LPL advisors can use this information to develop tailored financial education programs for retirement-plan clients.
  • WMSI’s technology is bringing together plan and participant data from multiple recordkeeping systems, so advisors and plan sponsors can work with investors to move their retirement plan accounts as their switch jobs. 

LPL Financial recently said that its RIA platform now has $50 billion in ­assets under custody, nearly doubling its asset base of a year ago. The $50 billion milestone caps five years of remarkable growth for our RIA custody business,” said Derek Bruton, managing director for LPL Financial, in a statement.

LPL’s RIA platform was used by 152 firms with $27.1 billion in assets as of March 2012. In late May 2013, 208 firms with $50 billion in assets were doing business on the platform.

“We made a calculated decision to focus on this area back in 2008, based on the anticipated success of the then-new hybrid RIA model, which enables both fee- and commission-based revenue opportunities for advisors who operate under their own RIA firm,” Bruton added.

“Our recruitment efforts have been wildly successful, as the number of RIA firms on our platform, and their ability to attract assets, has exploded. We have become the destination of choice for the most successful and sophisticated RIA firms in the industry.”

In early May, for instance, LPL Financial said the Ingham Retirement Group became an affiliate of its broker-dealer and RIA custodial platforms. The Miami-based group has some $1.5 billion in assets under administration ($1.1 billion of which it manages); it includes 12 financial advisors and about 38 other financial profession staff members.

RIA firms on LPL Financial’s custodial platform have the highest average assets under custody—at $214 million per RIA firm—compared to the top five largest custodians at $136 million in AUC per firm, as measured by Cerulli Associates in the group’s RIA Service Agent Survey 4Q ‘12.

In addition, LPL says its offers advisors the “only fully integrated trading and rebalancing system” in the custodial space that allows RIA firms to move easily from model management to trading in one consolidated platform.

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