The retirement plan advisory world has evolved over the last decade, with advisers who work with retirement plan sponsors moving toward a specialist model. Broker/Dealers (B/Ds) have been challenged at times to respond. Mark Casady, chairman and CEO of LPL Financial, the largest independent broker/dealer1 and fourth-largest retail advice provider2 in the country, spoke with PLANADVISER about the broker/dealer’s services to advisers in the retirement plan marketplace and the value LPL brings.
PA: What role do retirement plans play in the overall LPL business?
Casady: With our acquisition of National Retirement Partners in 2010, we created a new area within our firm that is focused solely on the retirement plan side of the business. While we always supported the plan business historically, this acquisition pointed to the prominence we believe this business will play in our future.
LPL was the first major B/D to allow advisers to act in a fiduciary capacity on a plan, but we also were the first to offer in-plan advice for employees in those plans. We continue to integrate the retirement plan business into LPL, and harness the synergies between them and our core wealth management business. With LPL’s unique offering of Sync Advisor Match we can partner these two diverse groups of advisers together to drive additional opportunities for both adviser sets.
Since 2010, LPL has grown its Retirement Partners group to support more than 5,500 of LPL’s advisers with $112 billion in retirement plan assets custodied with third-party providers. These advisers provide retirement plan consulting strategies for more than 40,000 plans with 3 million participants. Our retirement business is supported by a team of 70 people who are dedicated to serving retirement plan adviser specialists. This significant growth is indicative of the opportunity we see within the retirement plan space. Every day, nearly 10,000 people retire, many of them without the advice or advanced planning they need to be successful. We believe the American worker deserves financial independence and to be ready for retirement.
PA: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing advisers today
Casady: The first one is efficiency. The industry has been squeezed in terms of fees and what you can charge as a result of competition. That means you have to think about ways to run a more efficient practice.
We help with that efficiency. Our experts come in and determine how we can help supplement what an adviser’s team is doing to create efficiency in the practice.
The second area is regulatory. Our job is to protect investors, the advisers who serve them and our firm itself. Because of our size and position in the industry, we have an opportunity and an obligation to make sure that the voice of independent advice is heard with regulators and policymakers. That is why we are active in dialogue with these groups, and we encourage LPL advisers to do the same.
And then, fundamentally, in this business it’s about better outcomes. At LPL, we’re on a mission to help advisers deliver objective financial guidance. In the retirement space, this means helping client participants think about their choices, think about their risk profiles and get to better outcomes and retirement. We want to provide tools, capabilities and thought leadership because it’s so critical that these plans help Americans create the kind of wealth outcomes they need to have a great retirement.
PA: How do you work to recruit retirement plan advisers to your firms?
Casady: We’ve been the market leader in attracting new advisers across the industry. In fact, LPL ranks first in attracting new advisers over the last three years combined.
When we think about business development, it’s about the fundamentals. We need to make sure that we have created an environment in which advisers can prosper, grow and achieve what they need to best serve their clients. For each market segment, we have specialized business development teams that work with and understand the practices that are considering joining LPL. It’s about understanding and listening to adviser needs, and providing value in the relationship.
1Based on total revenues, Financial Planning magazine, June 1996-20142Based on publicly filed information as of June 30, 2014