August 21, 2013

LPL Makes Retirement Plan Deal With Vanguard, Ascensus

Deal gives LPL advisors the chance to do business with more than 1,000 retirement plans holding more than $2 billion in assets

CEO Mark Casady of LPL. CEO Mark Casady of LPL.

LPL Financial (LPLA) said early Wednesday that Vanguard and Ascensus would give retirement plan clients access to LPL’s Worksite Financial Solutions platform. That platform will offer investors saving for retirement with Vanguard and Ascensus tailored financial advice and education and the chance to interact with LPL financial advisors.

The independent-broker dealer, which is now hosting its annual advisor conference in San Diego, says the partnership should give LPL advisors the chance to provide services to more than 1,000 plans representing more than $2.1 billion in retirement assets.

"We are very pleased to partner with Ascensus and Vanguard to offer our custom-tailored participant-level advice and education solution to their Vanguard Retirement Plan Access clients and to Ascensus plan participants,” said Bill Chetney, executive vice president of LPL Financial Retirement Partners, in a press release. “By offering this service of personalized financial guidance to plan participants, these industry leaders are taking a new step forward and giving participants another important option for planning for their future."

LPL’s Worksite Financial Solutions platform lets retirement plan clients work directly with a financial advisor — either face-to-face, online or by phone. The clients can get customized retirement advice through online services that gather information on each participant's financial situation. After completing a detailed questionnaire online, they can chose to receive advice through the system or manage their accounts on their own. At their discretion, participants also can elect to receive advice all the way through retirement.

The Worksite Financial Solutions platform is integrated with LPL Financial's reporting and monitoring tools for plan advisors. Thus, participants can receive account reviews and updates from their advisor, which allows advisors to work closely and possibly expand their relationships with plan participants.

Advisors are embracing the arrangement, hoping to expand their retirement-focused work.

"I am very excited about the partnerships that LPL Financial has announced today. Ascensus and Vanguard are great firms with products and solutions that span the entire market,” said Michael Dorvillier, principal of Symbio Financial Partners in La Jolla, Calif., who has $400 million in assets under management affiliated with LPL Financial. "This partnership will enable my practice to strengthen its relationships with retirement-plan sponsor clients currently on these providers' platforms and offers a compelling new value proposition to a large number of prospective plan clients, as well."

As Chetney explained, "Our advisors at [our annual conference] have shown great enthusiasm for the new Worksite Financial Solutions platform. It represents LPL Financial Retirement Partners' vision for the future of the retirement advisory industry, and enables plan participants to receive the personalized advice they need in order to prepare for the landscape ahead with confidence."

Ascensus provides recordkeeping and administrative services to more than 43,000 retirement plans and administrators that handle more than 1.5 million IRAs. Vanguard provides investments to nearly 4,000 defined contribution plans, including recordkeeping and investment services to 3 million participants in more than 2,000 plans; it also is a major provider of investment, advisory and recordkeeping services to defined benefit plans.

In late June, LPL 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, should serve as a more effective “end-to-end solution” for retirement plan sponsors and advisors, according to LPL, while better meeting the needs of plan participants with tools for financial education, personalized advice and account transition services.

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