NYC Startup Vestwell Raised $8M To Ensure Your Employer is Offering The Right Retirement Plan

1/3 of Americans have nothing saved for retirement while half have less than $10K saved.  The outlook for retirement savings has been bleak but it doesn’t need to be.  Vestwell is a digital platform targeted towards financial advisors that can use the platform to ensure their clients can offer retirement plans for their employees.  Pensions have all about disappeared and employers need low cost ways to offer retirement investment options for their employees and employees need the help of their employers to achieve their retirement goals.  Vestwell facilitates this seamlessly and efficiently. No longer are employers forced to adopt out-of-the-box plans that do not meet their and their employees needs.

AlleyWatch spoke with founder Aaron Schumm about the startup, their Series A round of funding, and the state of the retirement industry.

Who were your investors and how much did you raise?

Thank you. We are very excited about closing our Series A. We raised $8M, led by F-Prime Capital. The round was entirely inside, with the same VC firms participating in our Series A. To us at Vestwell, it’s great to have such strong commitment from a highly talented team of investors around us.

Tell us about your product or service.

Vestwell is a turnkey solution for financial advisers providing them with the ability to offer clients a retirement plan without taking on the risk and costs typically associated with creating one. We remove the friction points of confusion, cost and compliance overhead that come with traditional retirement plans. Vestwell’s digital platform allows for seamless plan design, automated onboarding, and low-cost investment strategies, making it easier for employers to offer a retirement plan. Vestwell becomes an extension of the financial advisor’s services, acting in everyone’s best interest while scaling through technology and allowing financial advisors to focus on clients.

What inspired you to start the company?

My own experiences are what drove me to start Vestwell. Being a product person by trade, having cofounded a wealth management platform (FolioDynamix, now owned by Envestnet), I experienced first-hand, the difficulties in offering a retirement plan to our employees there. Being a huge advocate of advisors, with a deep understanding of how to build a scalable FinTech platform for the financial services landscape, I thought it was long overdue that we put a better solution in the hands of advisors to help their clients, the way they want to help them.

How is it different?

The 401k industry has been around for 40 years and sliced a million ways. Our differentiators are centered around how the platform is architected to scale an advisors practice while helping ease the pain, expense, and liability an advisor, plan sponsor and participant may be beholden.

Each user (advisor, company, and employee) has their own dashboard and interface that can sit across multiple record-keepers, custodians and executing brokers, without changing the user experience. Advisors no longer have to either shove a company in a box that doesn’t fit the company or customize a plan through various providers that won’t allow an advisor to scale his or her practice. We’ve figured out how to deliver a custom, white-labeled (e.g., ABC Advisors Retirement Platform), solution at a fraction of the cost, but still allow the advisor to do what s/he wants to do for their client while being compensated for it.

What market you are targeting and how big is it?

We work with RIA’s, independent broker-dealers, asset managers, and bank/trust custodians to equip them with a solution for advisors to services plan sponsors and employees at scale. The target plan sponsor size is $500K-$50M (2-2K employees). Upwards of 90% of this market is serviced through financial advisors, but they need a better solution to help their clients more effectively. The total asset breath in this space is upwards of $25T.

What’s your business model?

Primarily Vestwell charges basis points in an a-la-carte fashion based on the services provided. The solution is a full-service, unbundled turnkey suite. We become an extension of the advisory firm. They do what they do best, and we fill in the rest to compliment the advisor.   For example, if an advisor wants to be the 3(21) or 3(38) investment manager on the plan or hire a sub-advisor, they can do so, and we facilitate the technology, administration, trading, custody, and clearing, in a white-labeled capacity.

What should everyone know about retirement?

EVERY employee in America should have access to a 401k plan. It’s crucial for saving for retirement in one of the most effective ways possible, especially given company matching (free money) and tax deferrals. But, one should be mindful of the plan design, legal liability (as a fiduciary) and the cost, including the investment fees and ongoing administration. Paying too much or exposure to too much liability can be detrimental to a company or employee in the future. Fear or uncertainty shouldn’t stop one from setting up a plan or investing in one. It just needs to be clear, easily consumable and structured in a way that aligns everyone’s best interest.

What was the funding process like?

We were incredibly fortunate in our funding process. We hadn’t, officially decided to raise our Series A, with plenty of runway ahead of us. There was a lot of outside interest in Vestwell. But, our Series Seed investors said: “Listen, we are behind you 100% in whatever you feel is best for the company, and we are happy to do the round ourselves to help take Vestwell to the next level.” The group around the table have been a delight to work with, and added a significant amount of value beyond just capital. So the decision to keep the round internal was easy.

What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?

It’s a massive distraction from the business to raise capital. My focus was to keep the internal employees involved very small and contained, so the rest of the team could focus on funding while I finished up the funding.

What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?

Our investors are all there for specific reasons. We had an opportunity to be supported by teams that knew FinTech, the retirement industry, advisory practice, and B2B2C scaling better than anyone. They didn’t need much convincing. We all saw the fit and the strategic direction of the company. They were happy to support those efforts and take this to the next level.

What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?

We’ve already signed over 50+ advisory firms and are onboarding plan sponsors continuously. The next few months are focused on scaling faster and faster, while delivering on a few key strategic platform features we think will delight our users.

What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?

Listen, startup life is hard. There is zero glamor in it. I feel that many people have a skewed perception as to what it means to be an “entrepreneur.” But, I do stand by the notion that if you believe in what you are doing, you love it, and most importantly, you can add real value to this world and society, then it’s worth pursuing. One has to stay highly focused on how to add value a segment of the population with a more significant goal of sustainable benefit for all. If you can do that, while creating a clear path to a viable, sustainable business, you’ll find funding. In the meantime, ignore the fluff. Ignore the distractions. Stay focused.

Where do you see the company going now over the near term?

Generically, growing, scaling and providing value to advisors, companies, and employees. Specifically, I want to position ourselves to equip every financial services provider to create a more meaningful interaction with the American workforce through technology, while being a viable, scalable, profitable business.

Where is your favorite fall destination in the city?

These days, I feel my destinations only include our home, office, and an airport. But, my wife and I love taking our little 11-month old son to nearby Central Park or along Riverside, maximizing as much time together as we can, given our overly hectic schedules. People always say it, but it’s incredible how much joy and renewed perspective children give you.

Vestwell Announces New Joint Offering with Riskalyze to Deliver an End-to-End Digital 401(k) Experience Built Around the Risk Number®

The partnership will bring two of the financial advice industry’s leading financial technology platforms together for an optimal retirement planning and risk assessment experience

NEW YORK, NY, October 5, 2017 — Vestwell and Riskalyze today announced a new joint offering called Riskalyze Retirement Solutions, allowing advisors to access a new version of Vestwell’s retirement planning portal on the Riskalyze platform. The deep partnership will put Vestwell, the industry’s first fiduciary-backed retirement platform for the financial advisor community, and Riskalyze, the industry’s leading risk alignment platform, in the hands of financial advisors to better service employers and investors everywhere.

Aaron Schumm, CEO at Vestwell, was featured today during the main keynote address at the Fearless Investing Summit, where both companies discussed how the partnership will help advisors scale their practice, while enhancing the client experience, with compliance and a fiduciary mindset at the core.

Advisors will be able to simply log into the Riskalyze platform to generate 401(k) proposals and onboard clients electronically. In addition, plan participants will have access to pinpoint their own Risk Number® to help them get matched with the right asset allocation.

In addition to Vestwell’s 3(38) investment management services, the new joint offering will include access to several of the asset managers in Riskalyze’s Autopilot Partner Store. This will give advisors, plan sponsors and plan participants access to additional investment strategies, while still allowing Vestwell to assume ERISA 3(16) fiduciary responsibility on behalf of advisors and plan sponsors.

Overall, the new joint offering will allow advisors to clearly document their alignment and compliance with the pending DOL Fiduciary Rule, and demonstrate that they are acting in the best interests of plan participants. Users of the joint offering can look forward to the following features:

  • Operational Efficiency: The integration will remove an advisor’s administrative burden to sell, implement, and service retirement plans while handling both the HR participant notification process and the 5500 tax filing on the advisor’s behalf.
  • Holistic Planning: Riskalyze’s risk alignment platform will now enable advisors to offer an end-to-end digital 401(k) experience built around the Risk Number, by integrating risk assessment, goal analysis and asset allocation into Vestwell’s innovative experiences for advisors, plan sponsors and plan participants.
  • Scalability: By offering flexible, bundled or unbundled investment and fiduciary services, the digital platform will enable advisors to scale their business without heavy operational cost or burden. The platform does this by leveraging administrative services and fiduciary services as needed.
  • Enhanced Client Experience: With a streamlined and simple digital portal, advisors will be able to control the delivery of their client experience. By allowing advisors to deliver a consistent experience through an open-architecture, multi-custodian, multi-record-keeper platform, the platform will equip advisors to seamlessly guide clients in choosing investing strategies based on their individual needs while automatically rebalancing portfolios.

“At Vestwell, our number one priority is providing financial advisors with retirement technology that removes the administrative burden of implementing and servicing retirement plans,” said Vestwell CEO Aaron Schumm. “We’re thrilled to reach more advisors through our partnership with Riskalyze, an industry leader whose mission of equipping advisors with outstanding risk assessment technologies mirrors our own core values.”

The offering will be available to Riskalyze users including Registered Independent Advisors, Independent Broker-Dealers, investment managers, plan sponsors, and employees.

“Vestwell’s mission to make retirement plans affordable and accessible for all investors is reflective of our own hope: to empower fearless investing by providing investors with their true risk tolerance, and helping advisors align portfolios in the best interests of their clients,” said Aaron Klein, CEO of Riskalyze. “These shared values are what prompted us to choose Vestwell as our partner in delivering an end-to-end digital 401(k) experience built around the Risk Number.”

The integration will be available later this year. To introduce the offering to the advisor community, Riskalyze and Vestwell will be hosting joint webinars to help educate and train advisors using the platform. To learn more about Vestwell’s retirement planning platform, visit www.vestwell.com. For more information about Riskalyze, visit www.riskalyze.com.

 

About Vestwell Holdings, Inc.

Vestwell Advisors, LLC is a SEC registered investment advisor, a wholly owned subsidiary of Vestwell Holdings, Inc., specializing in 401(k), 403(b) and other defined contribution and benefit retirement investment management services. Built by an experienced team led by CEO Aaron Schumm, Vestwell can assume 3(38) or 3(21) investment management and ERISA3(16) fiduciary responsibility on the behalf of advisors and their plan sponsor clients. Learn more at Vestwell.com and on Twitter @Vestwell.

This is not an offer, solicitation, or advice to buy or sell securities in jurisdictions where Vestwell Advisors is not registered. An investor should consider investment objectives, risks and expenses before investing. More information is available within Vestwell Advisors’ ADV.  There are risks involved with investing. Investors should consider all of their assets, income and investments. Portfolios are subject to change. All opinions and results included in this publication constitute Vestwell Advisors’ judgment as of the date of this publication and are subject to change without notice.

 

About Riskalyze

Riskalyze is the company that invented the Risk Number®, which powers the world’s first Risk Alignment Platform, empowers advisors to automate client accounts with Autopilot, and enables compliance teams to spot issues, develop real-time visibility and navigate changing fiduciary rules with Compliance Cloud. Advisors, broker-dealers, RIAs, asset managers, custodians and clearing firms use Riskalyze to empower the world to invest fearlessly. To learn more, visit www.riskalyze.com.

 

Media Contacts:
Jessica Torchia
917-636-4804
Jessica.Torchia@ficommpartners.com

3 Types of Advisors That Can Benefit from 401k Plan Automation

Talk to advisors on the floor of any major financial advisor conference, and you will see that there are many kinds of advisor practices. Lifestyle or high-growth, niche specialty or generalist, local or location-independent, the variety is endless. And yet, most advisors have one thing in common. They chose their profession because they wanted to help clients by empowering them to make better financial decisions.

The exhibit hall of the same conference will reveal that the FinTech industry has numerous tools and automated systems to support advisors in their quest to help. Modern financial planning platforms make it easy for advisors to scale their practices and support a large number of clients.

Unfortunately, when it comes to helping companies that sponsor their own retirement plans, the 401k industry makes it difficult for advisors to help. A lack of standards, confusing terminology and limited fund choices contribute to an environment where many advisors find it is easier to just avoid servicing retirement plans.

That is a big loss for their practices, their potential clients and the industry overall. When done right and assisted by modern technology, a 401k offering can be a powerful differentiator and a strong contributor to an advisor’s bottom line.

From our years of experience helping advisors, we have learned that there is no single “right” way to manage 401k plans. Some professionals dip their toe in, while others choose to become 401k specialists.

These three case studies highlight some of the struggles advisors encounter with 401k plans and how technology can help them scale.

“Newbie Newman”

“Newbie Newman” is an advisor who never worked in the 401k space. Of course, he is familiar with retirement saving plans. He has a few wealth management clients who are small business owners, and a few have asked him if he could manage their 401k plans.

However, Newman is hesitant to take the first step. The complexities of the DOL Fiduciary Rule, conversion horror stories, and the intricacies of fiduciary responsibilities make it seem like adding plan sponsor clients is a lot of effort for an uncertain payoff.

How can 401k plan automation help Newman?

With a turnkey technology solution, Newman would not have to become an instant fiduciary expert. The software will take care of the most complicated parts of 401k plans. With all the necessary elements to manage a 401k plan in one place, it is easy to get organized and structure the workflows.

New plan sponsors can be onboarded in 30 minutes or less, and their employees can be enjoying the benefits of a new plan within 30 days. With technology handling the heavy lifting, Newman is free to focus on serving his clients and building new relationships.

Outcome: Newman is now a holistic advisor because he can offer 401k plan management to his business owner clients.

“Generalist Gerry”

“Generalist Gerry” is an advisor with a handful of 401k plan clients. While he has been servicing them for a few years, there are days he wishes he didn’t have to. Figuring out the right partners was tough enough (TPAs? RKs? Corporate trustees?) but now, the ongoing effort spent to service the plans is a painful reminder of the day he chose to take them on as clients.

Somewhere between manually filling out forms, faxing hundred-page adoption agreements and dealing with call centers, Gerry realized that large record-keepers and Third-Party Administrators don’t provide the level of support he requires.

On a good month, Gerry spends between 10 and 15 hours laboring with his three plan clients. A simple request from a participant for a loan from her 401k can take an hour or longer to fulfill!

How is he supposed to grow his business if the model does not scale?

“There must be better way,” reflects Gerry as he waits on hold with the record-keeper. In the hour it takes him to get to a real person, he could have made several follow-up prospect calls!  

The good news is that there is a better way. The right technology platform can bring all the key players together in one “virtual” room. There is a single point of contact for onboarding and other critical tasks. Your dedicated relationship manager is always there to answer your questions on anything from tech support to administrative details.

Modern technology solutions for 401k plan management offer true white-glove treatment for loans and rollovers. They automate filling out paperwork and guide you through the process so you won’t have to Google confusing acronyms.

Even better, participants can submit online forms to change their contributions or request loans without requiring a phone call to your office.

Outcome: Plan participants are happier since administration is simple and their needs can be addressed in a timely manner. Gerry is happy since he no longer has to deal with multiple points of contact, and his workload is dramatically reduced. Perhaps more 401k plan clients are in his future?

“Specialist Stephanie”

401k plans are a significant part of “Specialist Stephanie’s” book of business. She services 30 retirement plan sponsors, many of them large and sophisticated.

Stephanie would love to create her own model portfolios and present custom strategies for her clients. Unfortunately, some record-keepers are also fund companies, and they prefer to restrict her plans to using only their funds. Since there are so few options, there is little chance Stephanie will be able to create custom-tailored portfolios for her discerning clients.

Additionally, planning for quarterly client meetings has become a chore for Stephanie. Plan information is often difficult to locate, and many plans do not have participant-level data. Stephanie spends hours trying to dig up relevant details and explanations, and every quarter the burdensome process repeats.

Stephanie’s other problem is branding. Even though she manages client relationships and is building her brand as a 401k specialist, Third-Party Administrator and record-keeper brands are the only ones visible to her clients. Stephanie’s name and logo are nowhere to be found, so plan participants never get to know her! This will be a problem if a participant leaves to start his or her own company, since they don’t have a direct connection to Stephanie.

Finally, tracking assets under management and investments is cumbersome. Stephanie’s sponsor clients are spread across 10 different record-keepers and custodians. If she wants to manage and see her overall AUM, she must log in to each record-keeper’s platform separately, write down the AUM and enter the number into a spreadsheet.

Keeping track of over a dozen login credentials for different plans is a hassle, and the process of monitoring investments is excessively time-consuming. Since managing each plan takes so long, Stephanie has little time for plans with less than $1M. Turning away potential clients is always painful.

The good news is that a turnkey platform can be an easy solution for the smaller plans. The advisor can make up to $7,500 per plan each year with minimal upkeep time. Adding 10 plans can create an additional $75,000 in annual income with very little additional work required!

In choosing the right platform, Stephanie should look for one that offers the simplicity and convenience of a single point of contact. Vendors like Vestwell fulfill the roles of both record-keeper and Third-Party Administrator, making it easy for Stephanie to manage multiple plans. There is only one place to go to gather data on the plans and prepare for quarterly meetings.

The right platform will also allow Stephanie to build her own models and strategies. A stronger and more flexible menu of investment options, which is not limited by the interests of fund companies, is exactly what she needs!

Best of all, a modern solution will allow Stephanie to finally build her own brand as a 401k specialist. Plan sponsors and participants will log in to Stephanie’s white-labeled website. Participants that go to another company or start their own business will know Stephanie’s name and can contact her to set up their 401k plans, no matter what’s next for them.

Outcome: Stephanie can spend her time and energy on maintaining client relationships. No more chasing down forms or combing websites for performance data! Clients get personal treatment that makes Stephanie look good. After all, a modern platform like Vestwell works as an extension of Stephanie’s firm.

Winning the 401k space with modern technology

You might be curious about 401k plans, have a handful of plan sponsor clients, or run a specialty 401k practice. No matter which case study you currently associate with, the right technology can help you serve your clients better, improve your workflows and scale your practice.

The three cases we chose are just examples from a broad range of advisor practices. We know that your firm is unique. The Vestwell team is here to make it easy for you to service retirement plans, whether you are Newbie Newman, Generalist Gerry, Specialist Stephanie or someone in between!

Your guide to end-of-the-year 401(k) notices

The final quarter of 2017 has arrived, and with it the reminders of important year-end notices for retirement plan sponsors. Here’s a quick guide to some important notices, and why they matter:

October 1: Safe Harbor establishment

The deadline to establish a new safe harbor 401(k) plan for 2017 was October 1.

For those companies still wanting to contribute to a retirement plan for 2017, they might consider establishing a profit-sharing plan for this year, and then starting a safe harbor 401(k) plan early in 2018.

For those unfamiliar with safe harbor plans, the main advantage is that they provide a means for business owners and highly-compensated executives to contribute the maximum amounts to their 401(k) accounts.

This can, at times, create a problem if the company’s workforce does not contribute enough for the plan to pass its various discrimination tests regarding the amount deferred by the highly comped, versus non-highly compensated employees.

In exchange for enhanced matching or a contribution for all employees that is immediately vested, the highly comped employees are not restricted in the amount of salary they can defer, up to statutory plan limits.

In summary, these plans can greatly enhance the ability of business owners and highly- compensated employees to save for their own retirements.

November 1: SIMPLE conversion to a 401(k)

For employers offering a SIMPLE IRA who want to convert the plan to a 401(k), the deadline for notifying employees is November 1.

Rules stipulate that an employer cannot offer both a SIMPLE IRA and a 401(k) in the same calendar year.

When planning the conversion, employees under 59½ who pull their money out of a SIMPLE plan within the first two years of participation face a 25% penalty fee of their investment balances for doing so.

Employers, then, will want to ensure that they don’t unintentionally subject their employees to this penalty.

Safe Harbor plan for 2018

Employees must be provided with a notice that the plan will offer a safe harbor provision no later than December 1 of each calendar year.

This notification is required for existing plans that already offer safe harbor provisions, and for existing plans that wish to convert to a safe harbor plan in 2018.

Summary

Clients who offer small business 401(k) plans may not be aware of all required year-end notices, or of the benefits of a safe harbor plan.

You can help plan sponsors are on top of the requirements and important dates, while establishing yourself as a trusted expert on the subject.

Who’s the Fiduciary?

While the DOL’s fiduciary rules for financial advisors are new, fiduciary standards among 401(k) plan sponsors are not.

Even before the new DOL rules, plan sponsors were targets of lawsuits regarding the 401(k) plans offered to their employees. To avoid such ugly situations, it’s more important than ever for retirement plan sponsor to understand the responsibilities involved in being a fiduciary.

What is a fiduciary?

According to the Department of Labor, someone is a fiduciary if they perform certain functions with regard to the 401(k) plan. These include discretion over a plan’s administration as well as the selection of the plan’s assets. The focus is on the functions performed with regard to the plan.

Plan fiduciaries must:

  • Act solely in the best interest of all plan participants
  • Execute their duties prudently
  • Follow the specifications of the plan’s documents
  • Diversify the plan’s investments
  • Pay only reasonable plan expenses

Delegating fiduciary responsibilities

Plan sponsors can hire outside service providers to share in their fiduciary responsibility, however, they cannot abdicate this responsibility.

Here are a few types of fiduciary roles these service providers can assume.

A 3(38) fiduciary has the full discretion to make all plan decisions, including the those regarding the investments offered.

In this capacity, advisors are the decision maker for the plan’s investments; they are not merely offering suggestions. The plan sponsor’s fiduciary obligations are more limited here than for other arrangements, but it does have the responsibility to select the investment manager and to ensure that the chosen manager is properly executing the plan’s fiduciary duties.

A 3(21) fiduciary typically recommends investments to the plan sponsors, monitors those investments, and makes recommendations when investments need to be replaced. The final decision, however, lies with the plan sponsor. 3(21) advisors provide counsel and guidance to the plan sponsor, but they do not exercise discretion over the plan investments as a 3(38) does.

A 3(16) fiduciary must ensure that the plan is created and managed according to the ERISA rules. This is typically a role filled by a third-party administrator, either in an unbundled setting or as part of a bundled plan. If there is no outside administrator, then this role must be filled by the plan sponsor.

Using outside service providers

Typical service providers include an investment advisor and a third-party administrator.

VestWell can help you offer a top-notch plan even to your smallest plan sponsor clients. We can act as a 3(38) fiduciary via our arrangement with Palladiem. We can serve as a 3(21) advisor in partnership with you via our relationship with Morningstar. We can also support you as the 3(21) advisor with our cutting-edge administrative capabilities.

Additionally, we can help you offer your clients plan design options including new comparability plans, 403(b) plans and even a cash-balance pension option.

It makes sense to partner with experts in this area to enable sponsors to meet their fiduciary obligations. You can help plan sponsors offer a plan that meets their goals of attracting and retaining employees while helping their employees meet their retirement goals. Hiring the right partners allows the sponsor to focus on what they do best: growing their business while mitigating their fiduciary liability. And it makes you look really good as their advisor!

Vestwell Raises $8 Million in Series A Funding led by F-Prime Capital Partners

As Vestwell’s Digital Retirement Platform Experiences Rapid Growth, Funding will be used for Market Expansion and Further Development of the Platform’s Technology


NEW YORK, Oct. 2, 2017 /PRNewswire/ —  Vestwell, the industry’s first and only fiduciary-backed retirement platform for the financial advisor community, today announced $8 million in Series A Funding led by F-Prime Capital Partners, the venture capital group associated with the parent company of Fidelity Investments, with participation from Primary Venture Partners, FinTech Collective, and Commerce Ventures. Launched in late 2016, Vestwell received $4.5 million in its initial Series Seed of financing in September 2016.

Vestwell has grown rapidly this year with an exceptional market reception. As advisors look to better engage with their clients, while scaling their practice, Vestwell’s platform can be leveraged to facilitate every aspect of the advisor, company and employee’s needs. The unbundled, turnkey 401(k) and 403(b) platform becomes an extension of the financial services firm, helping to reshape how plan sponsors and employees are serviced. The multi-recordkeeper, multi-custodial technology can also incorporate 3(21), 3(38) and 3(16) investment and administrative services.

So far this year, the company has signed over 50 registered investment advisor (RIAs) firms, as well as independent broker-dealers, asset managers, and bank/trust custodians, with plans to onboard several thousand advisors this year.  The funding will be used to grow the team while further enhancing the technology.

In conjunction with this funding news, Vestwell also announces Ben Malka as a member to the Board of Directors. Malka is a partner at F-Prime Capital and also serves as co-chairman of the Financial Services Venture Capital Association.

“We’re excited to increase our reach in the financial advice industry and continue to develop better technology for our clients,” said Aaron Schumm, Founder and CEO of Vestwell. “Vestwell was founded to provide advisors and plan sponsors with an affordable, compliant, and easy-to-use retirement planning solution to help close the retirement savings gap in America, and F-Prime has supported that mission since our inception. This announcement, combined with the outstanding leadership that Ben brings to the Board of Directors, is instrumental to Vestwell’s success.”

“Vestwell’s white-labeled platform provides financial advisors with the ease of compliance and automation while maintaining the human interaction that makes their businesses succeed,” said Malka. “By giving advisors and plan sponsors access to low-cost plan options, Vestwell is providing employees across the country with the tools and plans that can help them to retire happily.”

Vestwell is the industry’s first and only fiduciary-backed retirement platform for the financial advisor community. For more information about Vestwell or to inquire about how financial advisors can leverage the platform, please visit: http://www.vestwell.com/.

About Vestwell Holdings, Inc.

Vestwell Advisors, LLC is a SEC registered investment advisor, a wholly owned subsidiary of Vestwell Holdings, Inc., specializing in 401(k), 403(b) and other defined contribution and benefit retirement investment management services. Built by an experienced team led by CEO Aaron Schumm, Vestwell assumes 3(38) investment management and ERISA3(16) fiduciary responsibility on the behalf of advisors and their plan sponsor clients. Learn more at Vestwell.com and on Twitter @Vestwell.

This is not an offer, solicitation, or advice to buy or sell securities in jurisdictions where Vestwell Advisors is not registered. An investor should consider investment objectives, risks and expenses before investing. More information is available within Vestwell Advisors’ ADV.  There are risks involved with investing. Investors should consider all of their assets, income and investments. Portfolios are subject to change. All opinions and results included in this publication constitute Vestwell Advisors’ judgment as of the date of this publication and are subject to change without notice.

Source: Vestwell Holdings, Inc.

Related Links

http://www.vestwell.com

Vestwell Named Winner of XY Planning Network’s 2nd Annual Advisor FinTech Competition

The FinTech competition was held at the #XYPN17 Conference in Dallas, TX on Aug. 28-31

September 20, 2017 (BOZEMAN, MT) – XY Planning Network is proud to announce the winner of its second annual Advisor FinTech Competition. Vestwell (vestwell.com), the digital employer retirement plan platform for advisors, took home first place against six other finalists during a live presentation at the #XYPN17 Conference which brought together 500 attendees and 116 exhibitors in Dallas, TX.

The competition, which solicited a record-breaking 24 submissions, was hosted by advisor technology guru Bill Winterberg of FPPad, and overseen by an elite panel of judges including XYPN Co-founder Michael Kitces, and representatives from the FinTech competition sponsors Betterment for Advisors and Quovo.

“It was our explicit goal with the XYPN FinTech competition to provide these new startups a way to showcase their technology to our young, tech-savvy advisors, who need the help of technology to service Gen X and Gen Y clients efficiently,” said Kitces. “When you look at the scale and quality of submissions we received this year, it’s evidence that the advisory industry really is attracting a tremendous new wave of startups looking specifically to serve the growing needs of financial advisors.”

“The judges were extremely impressed with Vestwell’s platform, and the way that they have weaved together the complex and disparate elements of the employer retirement plan industry into a single technology platform that makes it easy for advisors to help their small business clients with qualified plans,” continued Kitces.

Launched in September 2016, Vestwell’s retirement technology combines the best parts of automated investing with a human touch, removing the friction points of confusion, cost and compliance overhead that come with traditional retirement plans. The white-gloved retirement platform includes modern dashboards and rich visuals demonstrating planning objectives at the participant level, and a low-cost, compliant solution to scale the advisor’s business.

“It was incredible to witness the energy and passion of the hundreds of advisors who attended #XYPN17,” said Vestwell CEO, Aaron Schumm. “A large part of Vestwell’s early success can be attributed to the many advisors who have been early adopters of our technology. These advisors, along with everyone involved with XYPN, have a shared vision to create an accessible, fiduciary future for financial services – we’re honored and excited to be a part of it.”

As the winner, Vestwell will be featured on Bill Winterberg’s FPPad.com and Michael Kitces’s Nerd’s Eye View blog. The company will also have a segment on the popular #XYPNRadio podcast, and appear on XYPlanningNetwork.com.

CSLA Technology won Honorable Mention for its Student Loan Repayment Tracker which reduces the complexity of the college decision process. The other finalists included DataPoints, Loanbuddy, RobustWealth, ROL Advisor, and Tolerisk.

The 2018 conference, renamed #XYPNLIVE, will again include a FinTech competition, and will be held in St. Louis, MO on September 23-26, 2018. To register, visit info.xyplanningnetwork.com/xypn-live.

For media inquiries, contact xypn@ficommpartners.com.

About XY Planning Network

The XY Planning Network, with nearly 500 advisors, is the leading turnkey financial planning platform for fee-only financial advisors who want to serve their Gen X and Gen Y peers, providing comprehensive financial planning services for a monthly subscription fee and without product sales or asset minimums. The Network offers a virtual community for new and established financial advisors who want to serve a younger clientele, and provides its members compliance support services, marketing support, business tools and templates, and a wide range of technology solutions. http://www.xyplanningnetwork.com/

About Vestwell Holdings, Inc.

Vestwell Advisors, LLC is a SEC registered investment advisor, a wholly owned subsidiary of Vestwell Holdings, Inc., specializing in 401(k), 403(b) and other defined contribution and benefit retirement investment management services. Built by an experienced team with an average of 18 years of financial technology experience and led by CEO Aaron Schumm, Vestwell assumes 3(38) investment management and ERISA3(16) fiduciary responsibility on the behalf of advisors and their plan sponsor clients. Learn more at Vestwell.com  and on Twitter @Vestwell.

This is not an offer, solicitation, or advice to buy or sell securities in jurisdictions where Vestwell Advisors is not registered. An investor should consider investment objectives, risks and expenses before investing. More information is available within Vestwell Advisors’ ADV.  There are risks involved with investing. Investors should consider all of their assets, income and investments. Portfolios are subject to change. All opinions and results included in this publication constitute Vestwell Advisors’ judgment as of the date of this publication and are subject to change without notice.

Source: XY Planning Network

It’s National 401(k) Day!

Happy National 401(k) Day! How will you be celebrating it?

What’s that — You’re not celebrating it? That’s understandable. After all, every day is a holiday now — In addition to Halloween and Mother’s Day, there’s National Ice Cream Day (Ben and Jerry’s gives out free cones!), national Pokemon day, and Hug a Farmer Day. You can even register your own holiday. But National 401(k) day is a day you should actually pay attention to — it’s the day you should do your Annual 401(k) Checkup.

Looking into your retirement savings sounds about as much fun as going to the dentist (which, crazy enough, experts say you’re supposed to do twice a year). Fortunately, this isn’t as painful as you think, and getting your 401(k) set up right can make a big difference in terms of having a brighter future. With a quick checkup, you could make changes that could forever improve your future.

This article is written from the perspective that your employer is offering you a plan. Fortunately, about 80% of Americans are offered some sort of plan by their company, though many small businesses don’t have one available.

Increase Your Contributions
Are you already contributing to your 401(k)? If so, that’s a great start. Only about 44% of Americans are contributing. The first thing you should check is whether you’re maxing out your employer matching. Many employers offer additional funds to employees who contribute to their account. If you’re not maxing it out, you’re leaving money on the table.

Even if you are maxing out your company match, you should probably contribute more. Try bumping up the amount of money you contribute every month — The maximum for people under 50 years old is $18,000 a year. Now, that may sound like a big chunk of your paycheck, but remember it’s pre-tax dollars, so it’s the equivalent of only about $12,000 in take home pay. So regardless of how much you decide to invest, if you took it as salary, you’d only get about two-thirds of it, and the rest would go to taxes. So try saving more and see how it feels — you can always dial it back down later. Your future self will thank you.

Optimize Your Investments
Saving money for retirement isn’t enough — you also have to make sure it’s invested properly for your needs. A few tips: Think about how comfortable you are with risk. Long-term investments are all about remaining comfortable while weathering the storm of volatile markets, and though it can feel counterintuitive, it’s oftentimes best to just stick with your investments. Still, if you’re particularly risk averse, there are ways to invest your money which are less tumultuous.
Think about your future needs. When do you plan to retire? And is your 401(k) your sole source of retirement funds, or do you have a partner who will also be contributing? Thinking ahead can make a world of difference.

Roll Over Your Old Accounts
Have you switched jobs over your career? Most of us have, particularly younger Americans, who tend to jump from company to company with high frequency. When you switch jobs, it’s easy to forget about money laying around in old 401(k) accounts. A good option may be to “roll over” those accounts into your current 401(k) provider for a number of reasons. First of all, consolidating accounts is an opportunity to save on fees. Many older retirement accounts charge surprisingly high fees. Even a 2% fee can cost you a fortune by the time you retire.

Consolidating accounts makes it easier to see all your money in one place and keep track of it. It can be easy to lose track of old accounts, particularly when your previous employers may not have your new address after you move.

At Vestwell, we believe that everyone deserves the right to receive unbiased advice and quality investment services at an affordable price. We’re proud to be at the forefront of a wave of 401(k) reform. You can learn more about our offering on our website at Vestwell.com.

#XYPN17 FinTech Competition Award

By Aaron Schumm

I am pleased and humbled to share with you the great news that Vestwell has been selected as the winner of the XY Planning Network’s annual FinTech Competition.  This honor is especially meaningful because we were up against such impressive competition.

The other contenders included CSLA Tech, which has an awesome offering that helps advisors reduce the long-term consequences of student loans, as well as DataPoints, Loan Buddy, RobustWealth, ROL Advisors and Tolerisk, which are also designing amazing technology for the financial planning services community. Together, all of us are working to meet the needs of the next generation of advisors and their clients.

More than anything, this award speaks to the promise of FinTech and the need for continuous innovation. We are thankful that XY Planning selected Vestwell, as it affirms our mission to provide the next generation of solutions that advisors need and clients demand.

We are committed to keep pushing the envelope on solutions that enable every financial advisor to be able to offer their clients a low-cost, fiduciary and automated retirement platform. With these tools, advisors can focus on what they do best – building their business by focusing on establishing and nurturing exceptional customer service and relationships.

Thank you for partnering with us.  We’re looking forward to a bright future for all of us.

Turbocharge 401(k) Participation: Two Smart Strategies for Advisors to Turbocharge Retirement Plans

Two Resources, Two Effective Tactics, Two Essential Steps

By Vestwell Staff

Meet Allison. At 24, she is a second year auditor in the Boston office of a regional consulting firm. When Allison joined the firm, she sat in a room with 40 fellow recruits to listen to a mandatory presentation about the firm’s benefit package. Squeezed between inventory training and the happy hour, that session was a blur of legalese. How was she supposed to pick the right funds if they all looked the same? On her way out the door, Allison tossed the thick 401(k) paperwork package into her desk drawer. That’s where it still sits, two years later.

Robert, the IT support team leader with an office a few doors down from Allison’s desk, has his own retirement worries. Robert is a baby boomer, and fears of being unable to retire are looming large on his radar. He is a well-respected professional with a long, successful career, yet his contributions to the company’s 401(k) plan have always been just the bare minimum. While Robert worries about his lifestyle in retirement, without a clear understanding of his investment options or tools to make intelligent decisions, he struggles to find the motivation to invest more.

Allison and Robert are not alone. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 55% of the American workforce has access to a 401(k) plan, yet only 38% of them choose to participate. And it is not only Millennials that are not adding to their savings. Half of baby boomers, many of whom are already past their peak earning years, have retirement savings of less than $100,000.

We believe that a major source of this problem is the way that retirement plan options are presented to employees.

Many employees just like Allison and Robert are discouraged from enrolling in their company’s 401(k) plan or using it to its full advantage. Common obstacles include the cumbersome onboarding processes, confusing investment fund options, cryptic language and intimidating systems.

It does not have to be this way.

At Vestwell, we envision a future where companies can rely on retirement planning advisors to offer a new generation of plans.

Here is what the future looks like.

Retirement Plans Must Offer Customized Solutions

The problem with traditional 401(k) plans is that employees are limited by poor choices when it comes to fund options. Many 401(k) offerings have excessive costs, poor performing funds and not enough diversification opportunities to allow investors to properly manage risk. Put bluntly, these “off the shelf” product offerings force employees into portfolios that are just not good enough.

Then there is the lack of independence. Too many 401(k) plans still lock employees into proprietary funds. This practice dates back to the early 1990’s when many of the 401(k) platforms were offered through large mutual fund companies. At the time, investment options were limited to the affiliate’s funds in part because the record keeping technology did not allow a broader spectrum of investment products. Technology has since advanced, but many providers remain stuck in the past.

The solution is clear. Plan sponsors need a modern platform that will allow them to offer a wide range of independent investment options. Otherwise, underperforming and poorly managed funds will continue to limit the potential of plan participants to save enough for retirement.

Streamlined Onboarding and Plan Maintenance Are Key

Pensions were once the gold standard of retirement planning. A guarantee of retirement income was provided in exchange for years of service. Today’s 401(k) participation is anything but automatic. Employees must complete numerous paper forms and read through hundreds of pages of boilerplate disclosures. The convoluted enrollment process, combined with complex terminology, means that many employees fail to opt into their company’s 401(k) plan participation out of sheer confusion.

But it is not just employees who are exasperated and confused by the status quo.

The first 401(k) plans were launched back in 1982, yet the volume of paperwork that plan sponsors have to deal with has only increased. They also have to manually track enrollment status and participant changes and there is a stubborn lack of visibility into the fee structure of funds, which makes it difficult to compare costs across providers.

The maintenance of a 401(k) plan has become a full-time job for sponsors and the results (measured by plan participation and fund returns) leave much to be desired.

What would it take to turn 401(k) plans into the valuable engine for retirement savings that they were intended to be? We believe that the answer lies in maximizing the use of technology. If vendors and partners could automate the time-consuming and error-prone processes of enrollment, account maintenance and reporting, plan management would become much easier. Adapting the design of the plan to fit the changing needs of the plan sponsor should take a few clicks, not dozens of forms and weeks of waiting.

The benefits of automation should also extend to plan participants. Vestwell’s research shows that companies with automatic 401(k) enrollment can double employee participation rates. Other surveys have shown that employees with automated enrollment begin saving for retirement earlier. They also report that saving for retirement is easier. A strong 401(k) savings plan can go a long way towards retaining valued employees, recruiting new promising talent and creating better retirement outcomes.

Tips for advisors to turbocharge retirement plans

The current state of retirement savings enrollment is costly, cumbersome and confusing. If your company’s retirement plan participation statistics are disappointingly low, maybe it is time for a new approach. The 401(k) may not be the magical cure, but when used correctly it can be a powerful tool for creating peace of mind in your employee’s retirement.

Contact us at info@vestwell.com for more information about turning your 401(k) offering into a benefit that is easy to administer and manage.