LPL not selling Worksite Financial Solutions 401(k) platform

The program will close in September, though some aspects such as participant education still will be available to advisers

Jul 27, 2018 @ 12:40 pm

By Greg Iacurci

LPL Financial will not sell its Worksite Financial Solutions 401(k) platform, a decision that follows an expression of interest to buy the program by Global Retirement Partners, the largest retirement-focused advisory firm in LPL's network.

LPL, the nation's largest independent broker-dealer, announced to its advisers in May that it was planning to shutter the program in September. Worksite Financial Solutions is a service for 401(k) participants offering education and advice on things such as rollovers, and offered adviser support via a call center and marketing materials, for example.

Andy Kalbaugh, divisional president of national sales and consulting, said at the time that the program hadn't reached a large portion of advisers and provided a lower-than-anticipated return on investment.

Global Retirement Partners, which serves as an office of supervisory jurisdiction for LPL and has more than 300 defined-contribution-plan advisers, subsequently initiated talks to buy Worksite Financial Solutions, since many of its advisers use the platform.

LPL spokesperson Lauren Hoyt-Williams confirmed "there is no plan to sell any component of the platform."

However, it appears that LPL, which has roughly 16,000 financial advisers, will still make some aspects of the program available to advisers.

"While LPL will be retiring Worksite Financial Solutions in late September, advisers will continue to have access to features provided as part of the platform, including the Worksite wellness assessment and participant education materials," Ms. Hoyt-Williams wrote in a statement.

Global Retirement Partners is currently working to recreate aspects of Worksite Financial Solutions that LPL is shutting down, said Geoff White, managing partner at GRP. The program has many different elements, including financial wellness, managed accounts and direct-mail campaigns, he said.

"We're excited they're looking at keeping some of it," Mr. White said. "Whatever portions they keep, we'll take those and build a GRP overlay" to offer a continuity of service to their advisers, he said.

He and Ms. Hoyt-Williams declined to discuss why a sale to GRP didn't ultimately occur.

GRP's founder, William Chetney, oversaw the launch of Worksite Financial Solutions in 2013, when he was head of the LPL Retirement Partners unit.

The LPL Retirement Partners division was formed after LPL bought National Retirement Partners, a California-based broker-dealer specializing in retirement plans, in 2010.

Advisers and other observers have remarked that it seems LPL has been pulling back from the retirement-plan business recently. Aside from closing Worksite Financial Solutions, advisers point to a few multibillion-dollar groups — including Independent Financial Partners and Resources Investment Advisors — who are leaving LPL, and a shake-up among senior leadership. Dave Reich left as head of Retirement Partners last year; the group is now helmed by Bill Beardsley.

Ms. Hoyt-Williams, however, said the firm "remains committed to providing robust participant services programs to help advisers serve this area of business."

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