Alabama Firm With $1 Billion in AUM Affiliates with LPL

Birmingham, Ala.-based advisor group Bridgeworth Financial, with nearly $1 billion in AUM, has left Lincoln Financial to join the country's largest independent broker-dealer, LPL Financial, in a move that demonstrates the benefits of scale.

"They chose to partner with us because they really want to evolve," crowed LPL Executive Vice President of Business Development Bill Morrissey. "Bridgeworth is not only aligning with our B-D, but is using LPL as their primary custodian. Because we are serving in both these capacities, they are doing it all on one platform. That will create a lot of efficiency for them."

The outcome of a long negotiation process that took more than a year, the new business will help expand LPL's brand recognition in the Southeast, Morrissey believes.


FINRA Reconstitutes its Board, Adds 3 New Members, Reappoints 3

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has reconstituted its board of governors, adding three new members and reappointing three others. The new members, elected last month at FINRA's annual meeting, will begin their terms immediately.

Kevin Carreno, general counsel at Orlando, Fla.-based International Assets Advisory, was elected as a representative of small firms, defined as those with 150 registered employees or fewer.

"Every day, small firms are impacted by the lack of industry experience of the staff," Carreno said in a mission statement. "Small firms are detrimentally affected by restrictions on their growth and ability to raise capital. Arbitrary rule interpretations, unreasonable enforcement actions resulting in fines and overly burdensome regulations continue to drive up costs for small firms."


Millionaires Bullish on Economy's Future, Despite Real Estate Woes

The outlook of millionaires on the financial future is at its highest level since 2006, underscored by their confidence in the stock market, according to Fidelity Investments' 5th annual Millionaire Outlook survey.

The survey, which analyzes the investing attitudes and behaviors of more than 1,000 millionaire households, includes those with at least $1 million in investable assets.

When it comes to the future of the financial environment, millionaires gave the highest score since the survey's creation in 2006; this category has improved by 50% each year since 2009. A positive outlook on business spending and the highest level of confidence in consumer spending in the survey's history drove the sunny outlook.


Custom Target-Date Strategies Expected to Soar

Custom target-date strategies will hold 22% of 401(k) target-date assets by 2016, or $218 billion, according to research from Cerulli Associates. That would be a more than four-fold increase from the 2011 asset level of $46.4 billion.

"The use of custom target-date funds provides access for defined contribution investment only asset managers to the growing pool of defined contribution assets. In addition, these products also allow new asset managers to participate in this market, outside of the few that have dominated the space since the Pension Protection Act of 2006 blessed these funds as Qualified Default Investment Alternatives," says Kevin Chisholm, senior analyst and lead author of the new Cerulli study.


Women Face Retirement Income Glass Ceiling

Women may have come a long way in terms of their earning power, but they still have a long way to go before closing in on the male/female retirement savings gap. Income disparities over the past 30 years have translated into a 25% to 30% retirement savings shortfall for women, compared with similar savings and investing patterns that men employ, according to a new research report from the Insured Retirement Institute.

The study found that half of baby boomer men have retirement savings of at least $200,000, compared with only 35% of women who have reached this savings level.


Global Worry: Investors Fret About Retirement Finances

A survey of more than 8,000 people from 15 different countries found that only 16% feel confident that their retirement savings will be sufficient to cover their needs.

The Accenture survey also found that 82% are worried about their post-retirement financial situation and 89% feel it is important for them to start saving now, yet more than half (53%) are unsure and feel they lack the necessary information to prepare for retirement.

"The strong common global concerns about post-retirement financial security are alarming," says Mark Halverson, a managing director in Accenture's financial services group. "People are willing to save money, but have limited financial knowledge and limited saving abilities to actually do so."