ORLANDO, Fla. -- Are RIAs missing the boat on retirement plans?

While U.S. retirement assets are forecast to reach $24 trillion by 2017, RIAs have a very low market share, TD Ameritrade Institutional President Tom Nally told advisors during his opening address Thursday at TDAI's national conference here.

"Only about 6% of the specialists focused on retirement plans are RIAs," Nally said as he introduced a new TDAI initiative aimed at giving advisors the tools to develop a retirement plan offering for business clients. The "turnkey program," created by TD Ameritrade Trust, will offer recordkeeping, custody and plan administration, as well as a how-to guide for advisors looking to set up a retirement plan operation.

"For advisors who are not interested," Nally asked: "How many of your clients add money to their accounts every two weeks?" He paused to let that sink in. "Because that's what retirement accounts do."


Also on Nally's agenda Thursday morning were the industry's succession-planning challenge and TDAI's own technology offerings. For advisors not convinced that they needed to work harder to bring on younger planners, he pointed out that "Firms with junior advisors report 44% greater income, and a 15% faster growth rate."

Although he celebrated RIAs' strong position within the industry, he also highlighted growing competitive threats. "New players are looking to capitalize on the success of the independent RIA channel," he warned, citing both wirehouses "who are reinventing themselves to look like you" as well as new online advice providers. "That's nice validation, but it means the target is on your back," he said.

Among the initiatives Nally announced:

Retirement offering: The new TD Ameritrade Retirement Plan will offer account management tools and materials for advisors, enrollment and education support for employers, as well as planning tools and IRA rollover assistance for plan participants, the company says. Advisors will have access to the 13,000 mutual funds and ETFs on the TD platform; they will also get a step-by-step guide on "how to set up a retirement plan business, approach prospects and service clients."

Expanded intern program: A new RIA Intern Network is intended to connect advisors looking for entry-level hires with financial planning students. "The network can give advisors access to a deeper talent pool while also helping open more doors for young people pursuing a career in financial services," according to a TDAI release. The program includes an "internship playbook" with tips for advisors on onboarding and making use of interns, an online portal where users can post resumes and internship opportunities, a dedicated LinkedIn page to connect participants and professional development and education webcasts for internship participants. "Make no mistake: The war for talent is here," Nally said.

VEO upgrade: The company is also introducing a revamped dashboard for its Veo platform, aimed at becoming an advisor's first point of access, with access to multiple technology applications -- including customer relationship management software, document management, financial planning, portfolio management, trading and rebalancing. The dashboard will give access to multiple data streams, according to a TDAI release announcing the new tool, and "updates to information in one application can automatically be applied to other integrated systems."

TDAI says in future enhancements, the dashboard will have the ability to adapt to and learn the user’s preferences and habits. The company already gets high marks from advisors; in Financial Planning's most recent tech survey, the company ranked highest among custodians, with 47.6% of their advisors saying they were very satisfied with TD's technology.

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