There are more than 800 mutual fund firms across the U.S., yet only five percent of them had a presence this weekend at the conference of one of the key distribution partners for fundsters selling in the advisor-sold 401(k) business.
retirement partners team, led by David Reich
gathered more than 400 retirement plan industry insiders, including 274 401(k) plan advisors (KPAs), at the Phoenician in Scottsdale, Arizona for the giant independent broker-dealer's 2014 Retirement Partners Annual Conference (RPAC
). Of the 60 firms who sponsored the event, about two-thirds were asset managers, mostly mutual fund shops, that are investing in the DC I-O (defined contribution investment-only) channel, i.e. selling their asset management products through 401(k)s and other DC plans.
LPL's KPAs consult with more than 40,000 retirement plans with about $110 billion in combined retirement plan assets.
In the small and mid-size 401(k) plan marketplace, it is the KPAs who hold the keys to the kingdom, so to speak, and these sponsoring DC I-Os know it. To hear other DC I-Os tell it, attending LPL RPAC and thus gaining access to the KPAs there costs top dollar. Yet unlike some conferences this one doesn't offer booth space to sponsors, as there was no exhibit hall. DC I-Os and other sponsoring vendors were able to mingle with KPAs and each other, and on Friday night DC I-Os scattered throughout the resort and the rest of Scottsdale to take KPAs out for dinner parties.
LPL's top brass knows the importance of their KPAs, too. LPL CEO Mark Casady
once led a retirement plan business, and four years ago he acquired a KPA-focused B-D, National Retirement Partners (NRP
). Now Reich, executive vice president of retirement partners, estimates that about 1,000 of LPL's advisors work with at 25 retirement plans each. LPL president Robert Moore
event returned to the RPAC conference, and his message to the 274 attending KPAs was all about how "massive" the retirement plan business is for LPL.
"The work that you do is not an afterthought for us," Moore told attending KPAs, noting that LPL has invested $85 million in its retirement partners business over the past four years. "This is an area we are passionate about. It's an area we are fully committed to ... Don't let our calm facade fool you."
Indeed, in a subsequent interview with MFWire
, Moore said that LPL is "looking to pick up a lot of market share" in the retirement plan space.
"It's a huge growth area," Moore said.
"We've got one fantastic footprint," Reich agreed.
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