5 Easy Ways to Improve Financial Literacy in Your Community

April is National Financial Literacy Month, and according to the stats, most of us could use a refresher in financial education. A study conducted by FINRA Investor Education Foundation revealed that only 34% of Americans could ace a quiz on basic financial literacy topics such as interest rates, inflation, and mortgage rates. The lack of financial literacy can lead to devastating consequences. In fact, 62% of U.S. adults report having credit card debt and a quarter have nothing saved for retirement.

We believe that anyone can be an advocate for the cause, which is why we’d like to challenge YOU to join us by making change with one (or many!) of these five simple ways:

  1. Sign a petition. A principal factor contributing to our nation’s financial illiteracy is the lack of prevalent financial education in schools. In fact, less than half of U.S. states require high school students to take a personal finance course. To get involved, we recommend checking out National Financial Educators Council’s petition for mandated comprehensive financial education in all U.S. public schools.
  2. Donate. There are many national organizations dedicated to advancing youth financial literacy, including Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, W!se, and Council for Economic Education. If you want to go more local, consider Donors Choose to donate to a specific initiative near you.
  3. Support a school program.  Whether you’re an educator, parent, or student, every member of the community plays a vital role in expanding financial literacy. To make a difference in the financial education taking place at–or missing from–a local school, check out Jump$tart’s Check Your School Campaign.
  4. Educate a young person. Financial Literacy Month was first and foremost created for educating our youth, so a great way to honor this tradition is to commit to teaching at least one young person in your life about personal finance! Here are some resources to get you started:
  5. Educate yourself. While it’s great to share your financial knowledge with younger generations, it’s also important to continuously expand upon your own. Keep up with the latest industry and market trends by checking out one of the podcasts below, or, better yet, share your favorite financial resources with your network.
    • Animal Spirits: Ritholtz Wealth Management’s Ben Carlson, CFA and Michael Batnick, CFA take an intimate, engaging approach to finance, discussing topics ranging from their personal experiences in financial markets, parenting, and asset management business, their favorite TV shows, and more.
    • The Meb Faber Show: Drawing from his own experience as the Chief Investment Officer of Cambria Investment Management, Meb Faber delves into the art of investing and provides insights into global equity, bond, and real asset markets.
    • The Indicator from Planet Money: Hosted by National Public Radio, this daily podcast dives into the latest economic news, helping you to make sense of what’s happening in the markets today.
    • Financial Advisor Success: This podcast tackles practice management and development through interviews with financial advisors and leading industry consultants who share their success stories and insights.
    • Standard Deviations: Each week, psychologist Dr. Daniel Crosby chats with guests from the finance industry and holds discussions that approach money through a psychological lens.

It’s never too early (or too late) to start making an impact on financial illiteracy rates. Even a small step now can pay huge dividends in the future for your family, your community, and even yourself.

Tell us how you are joining in by using the hashtag #LetsGetFinLit.

Vestwell Named 2021 Best Place to Work by Forbes and Arizent

New York, NY — April 1, 2021 — Vestwell, the digital recordkeeping platform bringing the 401(k) and 403(b) industry into the modern Fintech era, today announced it has been named by Forbes as one of America’s Best Startup Employers, as well as one of the Best Places to Work in Financial Technology by Arizent and Best Companies Group.

Forbes’ America’s Best Startup Employers were selected based on an innovative methodology which evaluated employee satisfaction, employee reputation, and company growth. To be considered for the ranking, employers must have their headquarters based in the US, and founded between 2011 and 2018. The final list recognizes the top 500 companies based on over 7 million data points.

The Best Places to Work in Financial Technology list, which was created in 2017 by Arizent and Best Companies Group, is designed to identify and honor the best employers in the financial technology industry. Companies recognized on this year’s list operate in and serve companies and consumers in a wide range of financial services including banking and mortgages, insurance, payments, and financial advisory.

As a best place to work, Vestwell has been recognized for its perks, which include flexible work schedules, education stipends, and a generous 401(k) plan (of course)! Vestwell also offers competitive health coverage and unlimited vacation days. Additionally, Vestwell has been named a top workplace by Built In NYC and Crain’s New York.

“We are honored to be recognized by Forbes and Arizent as a top workplace in financial technology,” said Vestwell CEO Aaron Schumm. “Our people are our number one asset, and they are critical to achieving Vestwell’s mission of providing every American access to a quality retirement plan. To the entire team at Vestwell, thank you for your dedication, hard work, and passion. It’s an absolute pleasure to work alongside you every day.”

For information on Vestwell’s open positions, please visit www.vestwell.com/careers. For more information on Forbes’ Best Startup Employers list, please click here. You can find more information on Arizent’s Best Places to Work in Financial Technology awards program by visiting www.BestPlacestoWorkFinTech.com.

About VEstwell

Vestwell is the digital recordkeeping platform bringing the 401(k) and 403(b) industry into the modern Fintech era. We have rearchitected the workplace retirement offering from the ground up and built an engine to power the $30T industry. Our customizable, open architecture, and white-labeled platform becomes a natural extension of financial services and payroll partners, while removing traditional friction points plaguing legacy recordkeeping. The result is an easier, more efficient, and all-around better experience for everyone, delivered at a fraction of the cost. Learn more at Vestwell.com and on Twitter @Vestwell.

 

Want to attract more women to work in retirement? Read this

Financial professionals Courtenay Shipley at Retirement Planology, Kristen Deevy at Pensionmark, Katrina Bell at Zuna, and Deane Mayerhofer at Strategic Retirement Partners reflect on mentors, challenges, and the 401(k) industry.

By Allison Brecher 

We’ve all seen the stats about female representation in the financial services industry. Almost half of financial services employees are women, which sounds pretty good. But if you take a closer look, you’ll notice that as we climb the career ladder, women become underrepresented. In 2018, only 33.5% of advisors were female and a mere 15% of executive leaders were women. When we focus on women who specialize in the retirement sector, their confidence in their career trajectories mirrors these results. According to Women in Pensions Network, only half agree their career path looks promising, and one in three don’t believe they have enough education to advance.

The need for change is way overdue. And given that March is Women’s History Month, I wanted to highlight the important role women continue to play in the 401(k) space by honoring some of the incredible female advisors we get to work with every day at Vestwell.

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to sit down with Courtenay Shipley at Retirement Planology, Kristen Deevy at Pensionmark, Katrina Bell at Zuna, and Deane Mayerhofer at Strategic Retirement Partners to understand what drew them to retirement, who inspires them, and what advice they have for others.

10 Reasons to Work at Vestwell

At Vestwell, we’re striving to help millions of people save for retirement. Yet, we could never fulfill our mission of democratizing access to quality plans without our number one asset: our employees. Catalyzed by Employee Appreciation Day, we’ve been giving a lot of thought to what makes Vestwell unique. Here’s a quick highlight of the top 10 things our employees love about working here.

  1. We’re a bunch of retirement geeks. We’re not ashamed to admit it: we fully geek out about retirement. Our CEO (chief geek) has worked tirelessly to build a passionate team of entrepreneurs focused on reinventing workplace savings and investing.
  2. 401(k)s for all. Naturally, we have a pretty great 401(k) plan. We offer a non-elective 3% match, which means regardless of if you contribute to your 401(k) or not, Vestwell contributes to your retirement (but know in advance, we’ll provide you with lots of education around why you should)!
  3. Sometimes we slack.  Given the virtual work environment we’ve found ourselves in, we had to get creative with how our culture transcended the distance. We use the messaging app Slack to stay in touch about work, but just as important, we created dedicated Slack channels for sharing photos and stories about personal hobbies and interests in channels like #pets_like_401k_plans, #thefunstuff, #scavenger-hunt, #positive-vibes-only, and more.
  4. We’re backed by some pretty big names. Goldman Sachs, BNY Mellon, Nationwide, Point72, and Franklin Templeton are just a few of Vestwell’s investors. Together, we’re working to change the world (of retirement, that is)!
  5. We don’t sweat the small stuff. But we do take some time to get a workout in during the work day by regularly hosting virtual workout sessions (including desk chair yoga!) to encourage employees to stay active and clear their minds.
  6. We don’t just diversify our portfolios. Diversity and inclusion is a big focus for us. We have identified partners in the tech community that focus on BIPOC and women in technology like Grace Hopper, Afrotech, and Women in Tech, and we work with them as part of our ongoing recruitment strategy for technical talent. We are also launching our first official summer internship program, designed to identify talented students from the BIPOC communities. Internally, we host unconscious bias trainings and “lunch and learns” to give employees a safe space to have conversations about diversity, belonging, and inclusion.
  7. We have fun, too. Vestwell regularly hosts online social events including trivia game night, scavenger hunts, and cooking classes (did I mention there are prizes!?).
  8. Equity for all. Every Vestwell employee receives equity in the company, which means we share a collective interest in seeing the business succeed. So when we reference “our” company, we really mean it!
  9. We’re always investing…in our people! We provide every employee with a stipend for continued training and education. We also have regular, formal feedback sessions to discuss development to make sure employees are growing (and happy!) in their roles.
  10. Other people say we’re pretty great. Okay, can we brag for a sec? We have been recognized as one of America’s Best Startup Employers by Forbes for two years in a row! We’ve also been recognized as a best place to work by Crain’s NYC and we’re a three-time winner of Built in NYC Best Place to Work. So we must be doing something right, right?

Interested in working at Vestwell? Good news — we’re hiring! We currently have 10+ job openings, so check us out and see if there’s an opportunity that’s right for you. And if not, please email us at jobs@vestwell.com and tell us why you’d be the perfect fit for our team. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Wolters Kluwer’s ftwilliam.com Partners with Vestwell to Bring Modern Workplace Retirement Technology to TPA Recordkeepers

The partnership helps enterprises more effectively service the retirement plan ecosystem through a forward-looking solution

New York, NY — March 10, 2021— Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory U.S. today announced a partnership with Vestwell, the digital recordkeeping platform, for ftwilliam.com, Wolters Kluwer’s cloud-based software supporting retirement service providers. The partnership will offer users a complete Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution to help third party administrators (TPAs) with recordkeeping services to modernize their businesses.

Wolters Kluwer’s ftwilliam.com customers can now streamline recordkeeping for their clients through a joint solution using Vestwell recordkeeping software and services. “The TPA and recordkeeping industries have long been plagued by outdated technology,” said Chris Sullivan, Vice President and General Manager for the Transactional and Retirement Portfolio for Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory U.S. “Together, Vestwell and ftwilliam.com are leveraging modern technology to increase efficiency and differentiation while driving down back office costs. Through this partnership, we can deliver a true end-to-end offering that elevates the process and the user experience.”

ftwilliam.com is a leading provider of plan document, 5500, and discrimination testing software to TPAs, many of whom also conduct their own recordkeeping, while Vestwell licenses enterprise recordkeeping SaaS solutions to help financial institutions more effectively power their retirement plans. The partnership between the two companies will provide a significant lift for those looking to enhance their core competencies, drive efficiencies, and reduce their cost-to-serve across the entire ecosystem.

“We are thrilled to be formalizing our longstanding relationship with Wolters Kluwer as we continue to modernize the retirement plan industry together,” said Aaron Schumm, Founder & CEO of Vestwell. “Through our relationship with ftwilliam.com, we look forward to bringing regional and super-regional TPA-recordkeepers a modern operating system to scale their back office, expand their breadth of services, and differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace.”

To learn more, visit: https://product.ftwilliam.com/about/partners/

ABOUT VESTWELL

Vestwell is the digital recordkeeping platform bringing the 401(k) and 403(b) industry into the modern Fintech era. We have rearchitected the workplace retirement offering from the ground up and built an engine to power the $30T industry. Our customizable, open architecture, and white-labeled platform becomes a natural extension of financial services and payroll partners, while removing traditional friction points plaguing legacy recordkeeping. The result is an easier, more efficient, and all-around better experience for everyone, delivered at a fraction of the cost. Learn more at Vestwell.com and on Twitter @Vestwell.

ABOUT WOLTERS KLUWER LEGAL & REGULATORY U.S.

Wolters Kluwer (WKL) is a global leader in professional information, software solutions, and services for the healthcare; tax and accounting; governance, risk and compliance; and legal and regulatory sectors. We help our customers make critical decisions every day by providing expert solutions that combine deep domain knowledge with technology and services.

Wolters Kluwer reported 2020 annual revenues of €4.6 billion. The group serves customers in over 180 countries, maintains operations in over 40 countries, and employs approximately 19,200 people worldwide. The company is headquartered in Alphen aan den Rijn, the Netherlands.

For more information about Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory U.S., visit www.WoltersKluwerLR.com, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

MEDIA CONTACT

Linda Gharib
Director, Brand & Communications
Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory U.S.
Tel: +1 (646) 887-7962
Email: lrusmedia@wolterskluwer.com

 

 

How to Effectively Measure Retirement Plan Success

It’s important for plan sponsors to define plan goals and what they are going to measure, and the defined metrics should be things they can influence.

Plan sponsors might not know how to measure the success of their retirement plans.

According to Vestwell’s “2020 Retirement Trends Report,” plan advisers and sponsors use different metrics to determine the success of retirement plans. Advisers were more focused on plan participation rates (61% listed it as a top factor versus 39% of plan sponsors), while sponsors were more focused on the administrative side, citing no administration errors as their top priority 60% of the time and minimal time managing a plan 59% of the time.

Having no operational and administrative errors is important, says John Doyle, senior retirement strategist at Capital Group, but if the plan sponsor’s goal is to attract and retain talent or get employees prepared for retirement, it’s not a success measure. “Having no operational and administrative errors should be a success measure for recordkeepers. Plan administration is separate and distinct, unless it has an impact on how participants are using the plan,” he says.

Richard Tatum, president, retirement services, at Vestwell, similarly says having no operational and administrative errors is table stakes. “Your retirement plan is meant to be a benefit and not a burden, and there are many attributes you can look for when selecting a recordkeeper to ensure a more seamless plan experience,” he says.

4 Key Steps Plan Sponsors Can Take to Guard Against 401k Lawsuits

While 2020 was a landmark year of class action ERISA litigation, Vestwell General Counsel Allison Brecher shares these practical steps that protect companies from common exposures

By Allison Brecher

2020 turned out to be another landmark year in a growing trend of ERISA class action litigation involving 401k plans.

These cases, which generally allege plan sponsors breached their fiduciary duty by charging participants excessive fees, also spilled over into 403(b) plans sponsored by prominent universities, resulting in significant settlements. These lawsuits can be costly to litigate and often last for several years, prompting many of them to settle. Large corporations paid out more than $6.2 billion in ERISA class-action settlements of these cases, and at least 15 corporations had total ERISA payouts of $100 million or more.

Though there is no vaccine against litigation, there are practical steps plan sponsors can take to protect themselves if they are sued.

Personalization at Scale: How Advisors Can Efficiently Deliver Custom Advice Through Managed Accounts

Managed account adoption is increasing dramatically as advisors see the value of providing personalized advice at scale. As part of Advisor2x’s 2021 Wealth@wor(k) Digital Series, Franklin Templeton’s Yaqub Ahmed, Strategic Retirement Partners’ Jeffrey Cullen and our very own Josh Forstater addressed the factors driving adoption including advancing technology, the convergence of retirement consulting and private wealth, and the growing demand for customization. During the 30-minute session, they also explored the importance of certain design features to ensure that your managed account offering helps drive outcomes while delivering the individualized experience today’s participants have come to expect.

What Is the SECURE Act?

The law has implications for retirement savings and taxes for workers and retirees.

The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act was passed in December 2019 and became a law as of Jan. 1, 2020. The legislation created changes for long-term retirement savings and has financial impacts for Americans at every age.

What is the secure act?

The SECURE Act changed a variety of retirement account rules, including who is eligible to contribute to retirement accounts and when withdrawals are required. The new legislation also adds a new exception to the early withdrawal penalty.

Important retirement account changes from the SECURE Act include:

  • The required minimum distribution age increases to 72, up from 70 1/2.
  • The age limit for IRA contributions has been removed.
  • Inherited retirement account distributions must be taken within 10 years.
  • New parents can take penalty-free withdrawals.
  • Long-term part-time employees may now be eligible for 401(k) plans.

Here’s an in-depth look at the SECURE Act and how it may affect you.

Franklin Templeton’s managed account product could be future for DCIOs

Managed accounts offer DCIOs the opportunity to be a more active and important part of the DC ecosystem. It moves them from being dependent on record keepers, advisers and plan sponsors to create the strategy to help participants, to being an advice provider of customized investment solutions. 

The recent announcement of Franklin Templeton’s Goals Optimization Engine, initially in partnership with Vestwell, may mark the next evolution for defined-contribution investment-only providers searching for a new role and identity in the DC world.

The role of mutual funds in the DC market has evolved. In the 1990s, they were dominant, and providers’ relationships with advisers helped get products into smaller and midsize plans. Now fund providers have to curry favor with the record keepers, advisers, broker-dealers and aggregators that control plan sales. Add the move to indexing and packaged products like target-date funds, many of which are propriety and emphasize asset allocation and not securities selection, and it’s no wonder that all but the top 10 DCIOs have been doing some serious soul-searching.

“We have to de-commoditize our business,” said Yaqub Ahmed, Franklin’s head of U.S. retirement and insurance. “We have to move from chasing returns to goal-based products.”