(Bloomberg) -- Northwestern Mutual, the nation's second-largest life insurance company, is buying LearnVest, the online financial planning start-up founded in 2009.

LearnVest is one of several financial start-ups competing to offer advice or investment products through the web more cheaply than at established firms. Unlike robo advisors like WealthFront and Betterment, which primarily focus on investments, LearnVest helps clients set up a comprehensive financial plan.

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