Well-known plan adviser Joe Connell has parted ways with LPL Financial LLC , opting instead to set out on his own.
Mr. Connell left the firm on Feb. 19 and is now with Financial Telesis Inc., a broker-dealer that focuses on retirement planning. The adviser brought just over $200 million in retirement plan assets to his new practice Retirement Plan Partners Inc. in Maple Grove, Minn.
Mr. Connell became affiliated with LPL about a year ago when he joined with Sheridan Road Financial, a retirement plan-focused practice that's based in Northbrook, Ill. but also has offices in Milwaukee, Indianapolis and Nashville, among other places.
The plan adviser says LPL's retirement practice, and the broker-dealer itself, are growing fast -- in fact, a little too fast for his practice.
“LPL is getting so big, and it's hard for them to do anything unique with the size of their operations,” he said. Mr. Connell noted that while Sheridan Road was becoming extremely successful in moving upmarket – the practice recently won a $3 billion plan in Tennessee – he preferred working with smaller businesses on a one-on-one basis.
“You can't do participant education the way we want to do it when you take on large clients like that,” Mr. Connell said. “For us, working with plans with $1 million to $25 million [in assets] is a good fit. We like to go onsite and hold meetings. Sometimes firms don't want you doing that as much because it takes away from the opportunity to do other things they'd rather have you doing.”
Expanding into wealth management was also something he wasn't necessarily interested in, either. Rather, sticking to retirement plans for small businesses and holding participant meetings seemed to be a better niche.
“We can form relationships with advisers from outside the firm when someone needs [wealth advisory help],” Mr. Connell said. “Advisers are becoming a commodity, and we're in this mix of compressed margins – so how do you differentiate yourself? We'll stay close to clients and refine our market a little more.”
Mr. Connell added that another reason he decided to part ways with the firm was because he felt it was costly to stay there. For instance, he said errors and omissions insurance while he was with LPL added up to $3,600 a year, which Mr. Connell notes “is a lot higher than what you can get on your own.”
Joseph Kuo, a spokesman for LPL, noted that the firm does not comment on advisers who are no longer affiliated with the broker-dealer. “We provide our advisers with one of the most comprehensive errors and omissions insurance policies available in our industry, and we have leveraged our scale to keep E&O expenses to a minimum for our advisers,” he added.
Going forward, Mr. Connell expects to build out his new team to three or four advisers and to remain local.
“We're going to stay regionally based," he said. "I don't see us opening branches all over the country."