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Thursday, July 30, 2015

LPL's Robo Plan Catches Reporters' Focus

News summary by MFWire's editors

Robo-advisors, both startups and established shops, continue to be glamorous in the eyes of journalists, even when thousands of non-robo advisors are at hand.

This week more than 4,000 financial advisors (plus another 3,000 or so family members, home office staff, mutual fund shops, and other FA-focused exhibitors) converged on Boston for LPL's annual Focus conference. LPL's top brass had lots to share about what they're working on, and it was their plans to build a robo-advisor-like service, for FAs to use to compete with robo-advisors, that many reporters focused on.

Indeed, FA magazine, Financial Planning (twice), InvestmentNews, RIABiz, ThinkAdvisor, and WealthManagement.com all covered LPL's robo-advisor plans.

LPL's new president, Dan Arnold, made the robo-advisor reveal in the opening general session on Monday when talking about broader fee cuts for LPL's centrally-managed advisory platforms. Arnold told MFWire that Ryan Parker, managing director of investment and planning solutions, is leading LPL's robo-advisor-like effort. Arnold sees such an offering as giving advisors more flexibility.

"It can be an incubator of smaller accounts," Arnold told MFWire. "It can be to reach new markets."

"We believe that the robo-advisor will not replace the financial advisor. You provide way, way too much creative insight and perspective to your clients," Arnold said in his speech.

We do think the robo-advisor will ultimately garner and win a certain segment of the marketplace ... We also believe it will be disruptive to our pricing ... We want to hit it head on. We want to deliver you a robo-solution, one that could be positioned as a complement to your practice.

Arnold revealed that the robo-advisor solution will be an ETF-only, LPL-research-powered version of LPL's existing Model Wealth Portfolios (MWP) program. LPL's going to work with an outside partner "on the technology interface and workflow associated with the interface," Arnold said, and LPL is going to pilot the program with 20 FAs within the next two months. 

Edited by: Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

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