America’s Best Startup Employers

By Forbes

Forbes partnered with market research company Statista to identify the up-and-coming companies liked best by their employees in their inaugural ranking of America’s best startup employers. The list was compiled by evaluating 2,500 American businesses with at least 50 employees on three criteria: employer reputation, employee satisfaction and growth.

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Vestwell Tackles ‘Traditional’ 401k Recordkeeping with Latest Tech Release

By John Sullivan, Editor-In-Chief, 401K Specialist

Digital 401k platform Vestwell says it’s taking a leap forward in the technology it provides, “resetting the bar” across the retirement plan industry by shedding what it calls 30-year-old technology that currently oversees complex recordkeeping.

The capabilities are powered by an API-driven tech stack, resulting in a more efficient, flexible and cost-effective 401k offering, according to the company.

“So much of the way in which the industry does things was put in place pre-internet,” Aaron Schumm, Founder and CEO of Vestwell, said. “Things have come a long way over the past 20 and 30 years, but it’s just time to kind of rewrite how [retirement plan recordkeeping] works and bring it to a way in which we expect our financial lives to be treated. So that’s really what we’re focused on.”

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New Vestwell Infrastructure Removes Traditional Record Keepers from Retirement Plan Administration

By Ryan W. Neal


Digital retirement platform Vestwell is developing a new technology infrastructure that would do away with the need for traditional record keepers.

Vestwell’s existing technology lets advisers create, sell and manage defined-contribution retirement plans, but founder and CEO Aaron Schumm said the engine still needed connections with archaic record keepers that slowed down processes and drove up costs.

“Legacy providers out there have been around for a lot of years. They work, they perform a function that’s critical to the equation, but it’s old,” Mr. Schumm said. “We’ve revisited, redone and rethought [record keeping] from the ground up.”

With a new investing architecture driven by modern application programming interfaces, or APIs, Vestwell can maintain records in-house on a digital database and take full control over 3(16) administrative tasks such as eligibility, loans and distributions, notices and compliance testing.

By automating record keeping and bringing all non-custody services in-house, Mr. Schumm believes Vestwell enables advisers to offer white-labeled workplace retirement plans more efficiently, cost-effectively and at scale.

“If you’re an adviser and you’re working with 100 retirement plans and each have 30 employees and you want to access those 3,000 individuals, it’s [currently] hard to do at scale,” Mr. Schumm said. “This new framework will remove how record keeping has functioned to date.”

The idea is to help advisers sell and manage DC plans for employers at small and midsize businesses. Because of the high costs, inefficiencies and thin margins of traditional record keepers, these employers’ only options are to offer a generic retirement plan, pay high fees or eschew offering a plan at all, Mr. Schumm said.

Vestwell’s APIs support custom investment management options, bringing 401(k) and 403(b) plans closer to how individual brokerage accounts operate.

“We’ve created the ability for a participant to have their own custody account within a 401(k),” Mr. Schumm said.

The new infrastructure follows several updates from Vestwell since the company attracted a $30 million investment from Goldman Sachs. Vestwell recently updated the user experience of its adviser- and client-facing portals.

The new infrastructure also paves the way for future developments that Mr. Schumm is even more excited about, such as bringing in other workplace accounts like health savings accounts. In the future, he wants Vestwell to support what he calls “next best dollar” decision-making.

When a plan participant gets paid, the idea is that part of their money will automatically be set aside for saving into the most tax-optimal location, whether that’s a DC plan, an HSA or flex spending account, or an individual brokerage account. By allocating money into the best “bucket,” Mr. Schumm said, advisers using Vestwell can help clients with their biggest concern: how they should best be saving.

“The easier we can make these decisions and make this available to people, the more we’re going to help them save,” he said.

While Mr. Schumm doesn’t believe that what he’s built with Vestwell is essentially a digital startup record keeper, for now, he doesn’t have a better word for it.

“We’re expanding the features and functions within this new architecture of a record keeper,” Mr. Schumm said. “In 2021, our focus will be on larger initiatives for where we want to take the industry.”

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President Signs SHRM-Backed Measures that Include Cadillac Tax Repeal

By Stephen Miller, CEBS

Congress overwhelmingly passed and President Donald Trump has signed into law an end-of-year spending bill and a companion tax extenders measure that contain several agenda items championed by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), including full repeal of the so-called Cadillac tax on high-cost health plans. The SECURE Act, a measure to promote savings by easing compliance burdens on defined-contribution and defined-benefit retirement plans, was attached to the appropriations bill.

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SECURE Act Alters 401(k) Compliance Landscape

By Stephen Miller, CEBS

President Donald Trump on Dec. 20, 2019, signed into law the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act, a bill to help employers create and run retirement plans for workers. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) strongly backed the measure, which the House first passed in May and the Senate approved on Dec. 19 as part of a year-end appropriations package.

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Putting Retirement Plans in the Spotlight: What the SECURE Act Can Mean for Plan Sponsors

While there’s been no shortage of things to read about in the news these days, the bipartisan-supported Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act has been signed into law and it’s arguably the most impactful retirement plan security legislation in decades. For those wondering which of the hundreds of pages of legislation are most relevant to plan sponsors, here are some thoughts.

#WinnersOfWealthTech Ep 28: Aaron Schumm, Founder and CEO of Vestwell

This month’s Winners of Wealthtech interview is with Aaron Schumm, the Founder and CEO of Vestwell, an entirely new kind of digital retirement platform transforming the way plans are offered and administered — for the benefit of advisors, employers, and employees alike.

Prior to founding Vestwell, Aaron was a co-founder of FolioDynamix, a wealth management and advisory services company that powered $800 billion in assets for over 100,000 advisors. At FolioDynamix, which was sold to Envestnet in 2017, Aaron oversaw the strategy, revenue, marketing, customers and product. Aaron holds a B.S. degree in finance from the University of Illinois and an M.B.A. degree from Duke University, The Fuqua School of Business. He was named as one of 40-under-40 by InvestmentNews and’s “10 to Watch”.

Listen to the podcast here!


How Can I Offer My Employees a 401(k) Plan?

By Denise Power

If you could create your own fantasy Board of Directors who would be on it? CO— connects you with thought leaders from across the business spectrum and asks them to help solve your biggest business challenges. In this edition, a CO— reader asks whether it is feasible for a small business to sponsor a 401(k) plan for employees.

Ben Thomason, executive vice president of revenue at Vestwell, answers…

Companies know it’s vitally important to have the right people on board to build the business, and a solid benefits package attracts the top talent they need. However, many small businesses assume they do not have the option to offer a 401(k) retirement savings plan.

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Study: Advisors’ Fear of Outsourcing Underscores Struggle with Scale

Identifying new opportunities and managing scale were cited by retirement plan advisors as the biggest issues they struggle with in growing their practice, but a new study suggests they are not taking steps to create additional efficiencies.

In “Evaluating Operational Challenges to Drive Scale and Efficiency,” 39% of advisors stated that identifying new opportunities is their biggest hurdle to growing their practice, followed by 33% who see managing scale as their biggest hurdle. Yet, an even smaller percentage are outsourcing their most basic functions, according to the study by digital platform firm Vestwell.

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