David Reich, executive vice president for retirement platform development at LPL Financial, said the retirement plan advisory services industry is poised to undergo some significant changes. “Across the industry there is a trend towards the understanding that participants need advice,” Reich told PLANADVISER.
“Plan sponsors in particular are seeing the importance of improving outcomes in terms of retirement readiness. In addition, we know that the participants willingly admit they need the help, and advisers want to provide the advice,” Reich said. “That’s why we’re so excited to launch the Worksite Financial Solutions platform, the first holistic adviser-based advice and education capability that spans across the entire employee lifecycle.”
Calling the current system of participant advice a fragmented one, LPL Financial said the core goal of the platform will be to provide an alternative, with better financial education, a clearer menu of investment options, personalized financial advice and guidance so that workers can adequately plan for the future.
The platform will introduce tools enabling plan sponsors and advisers to better serve plan participants across the spectrum of retirement preparation:
- Providing more in-depth advice on retirement plan investments throughout workers’ careers;
- Helping employees assess their own financial wellness; and
- Enabling employees to identify and implement the most appropriate solutions for their needs upon separation from an employer’s plan.
The platform will also serve to better align the needs of participants, sponsors and advisers throughout this multi-year process, helping workers adequately prepare for retirement and creating new opportunities for plan-focused financial advisers.
“Since our acquisition by LPL Financial, we have actively leveraged our enhanced resources and scale to completely reinvent the world of retirement plan financial advice,” said Bill Chetney, executive vice president of LPL Financial Retirement Partners. “The current model for providing retirement advice to plan participants is simply inadequate, and does not enable workers to manage and grow their retirement plan assets across the full spectrum of their financial lives. With the Worksite Financial Solutions platform, LPL Financial is taking steps to provide workers the advice they need for retirement, while at the same time creating new opportunities for our affiliated retirement-plan focused financial advisers.”
The platform helps streamline information for participants, but also is an approach that brings together more information than existed before. “The Worksite Financial Solutions platform does provide plan participants with crucial information, such as what options they have when they separate from an employer, but—more importantly—the platform allows an adviser to provide holistic life stage education that enables the right conversations,” Reich said. “As the advisers become more informed, this allows them to leverage our platform to provide in-plan advice that’s tailored to the participant’s situation.”
Tools offered through the Worksite Financial Solutions platform include:
Employee Advice Solution. The platform will enable the delivery of custom-tailored participant advice through an online service offering that gathers information on each participant’s financial picture through a detailed “on-boarding” process. Based on this information, participants can elect to receive personalized advice through the system or manage their accounts on their own. Participants can opt to receive advice all the way through retirement, as well. This platform will be fully integrated with LPL Financial’s reporting and monitoring tools for advisers. Participants will receive account reviews and updates from the plan adviser, facilitating a closer relationship between advisers and plan participants.
Employee Education Solution. The educational services will include an online financial wellness center powered by Financial Finesse, which will enable participants to develop a clear view of their own current financial situations and provide tools to support improvement in their areas of concern. Plan sponsors will be able to view aggregate data from participant wellness assessments as part of the integrated plan-level reporting they receive from their LPL Financial adviser. The educational component of the platform will also help to build stronger relationships between plan sponsors, participants and advisers by providing advisers with pre-approved marketing materials and educational workshops designed to facilitate ongoing, in-depth dialogue with plan participants about their financial needs which are tailored to the gaps identified through the survey process mentioned above.
Employee Transition Solution. The Worksite Financial Solutions platform will also incorporate the Employee Transition Solution, which LPL Financial launched in May 2012 to educate retirement plan participants, and where appropriate, transition retirement plan accounts for separating employees. This program provides retirement plan-focused advisers powerful new options to grow and strengthen their businesses.
“As we seek to tackle the serious challenges facing plan sponsors and participants in today’s retirement environment, LPL Financial is excited to propose new solutions that will help move the industry forward,” Chetney said. “The Worksite Financial Solutions platform will enable plan sponsors, advisers and participants alike to better understand and prepare for the retirement landscape, and will help American workers to maximize one of their most valuable assets – their savings in employer-sponsored retirement plans.”
The rollout of the new platform is expected to be completed in April.