HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Pershing on Wednesday said advisors will now be able use its platform to open, fund and manage 529 college savings plans for investors looking to set aside cash for their children’s education.

Pershing said by being the first clearing firm to offer a brokerage solution for 529 college savings plan, advisors using its platform now have another offering to attract new clients and increase their assets under management and save time and costs associated with managing these plans outside their clients’ investment portfolios.

“The 529 College Savings plan is currently one of the most popular college savings vehicles for American families and is expected to reach $237 billion in assets by 2015,” Rob Cirrotti, Pershing’s director of retirement and long-term savings, said in a statement. “Advisors will no longer need to handle 529 plan accounts outside their investment platform.”

While 529 plans are becoming more popular, it’s clear plan providers and advisors could and should be doing more to educated would-be participants.

A recent Edward Jones survey of 1,000 Americans found that 62% had “no idea” what a 529 college savings plan meant.

Pershing official’s said it plans to offer a large selection of the nation’s most prominent 529 college savings plan providers. The first 529 plan available on its platform is CollegeAmerica sponsored and administered by the Virginia College Savings Plan. American Funds is the plan's program manager, offering 25 investment options.

According to the Financial Research Corporation, CollegeAmerica and American Funds currently have 42% of advisor-sold 529 college savings plan assets.

“Pershing's offering has the potential to greatly expand the use and sales of 529 college savings plans in the advisor-sold channel,” Paul Curley, director for college savings research at the Financial Research Corporation, said in a statement. “Making it easier to do 529 business with industry-leading technologies such as Pershing is introducing can't help but generate greater sales and net assets for advisor-sold 529 plans in the future."

Larry Barrett writes for Financial Planning.



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