In a recent Forbes feature, president and CEO David Musto reflects on his experience leading through complex problems and challenging times, most recently during the COVID-19 pandemic. Musto summarizes his top priorities in the face of the COVID outbreak: shifting associates to remote work; finding ways to engage and communicate with thousands of associates, partners, & clients; addressing a broad variety of cybersecurity risk factors; and more. He also comments on the “profoundly personal” effect that the pandemic has had on people across the globe, and how that has raised the stakes even more in his quest to effectively lead and continue to deliver for Ascensus’ clients.
“Great leadership is about setting a clear direction, being a purveyor of hope and optimism, sustaining trust, and getting results. High functioning leaders are able to do some combination of those things well,” states Musto.
Peg Creonte, president of Ascensus’ Government Savings line of business, was featured in a recent New York Times article where she commented on 529 savers’ reactions to COVID-related market volatility. She shared that while one-time contributions to 529 plans on our platform had fallen in recent months compared to 2019, scheduled contributions mostly weren’t affected. “We did not see any sort of panicked reaction,” she added.
Following the recent announcement of Ascensus’ new READYSAVE™ mobile app, both PLANADVISER and PLANSPONSOR released articles spotlighting its features. Specifically, the articles highlight the app’s ability to predict the potential consequences of saving decisions as a way to encourage positive savings behaviors. READYSAVE, which will become available this summer, will serve all participating employees across Ascensus’ and its outsourced partners’ 401(k) recordkeeping platforms.
PLANADVISER and PLANSPONSOR recently covered Ascensus’ rollout of various COVID-19-specific resources. These resources include a new Ascensus.com homepage design, a Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act infographic series, a behavioral analytics series, a Change of Plans guide, and frequent legislative updates. “Advisers and retirement plan sponsors face a dual-edged challenge today: dealing with the life-altering realities of the COVID-19 pandemic and responding thoughtfully to the way that it’s impacting their businesses, retirement plans and participants,” says David Musto, Ascensus’ president and CEO.
Recent NAPA and ASPPA articles, citing data provided by Ascensus, discuss the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on U.S. employees’ savings behaviors in March. The Ascensus data serves as an “early baseline” for the evolution of contribution and withdrawal behavior in response to the virus. These early insights suggest that many Americans adjusted their contributions to savings plans. However, savers haven’t yet tapped into existing savings and are making efforts to “stay the course” to help ensure financial security.
In a recent BenefitsPRO article, President and CEO David Musto commented on COVID-19’s impact on retirement plans as well as Ascensus’ approach during this time. Musto states that Ascensus is working hard with plan sponsors to help solve any immediate financial needs that may arise while continuing to support their employees’ long-term retirement security goals. “Among the things that we discuss are how plan expenses and company contributions are funded, how plan expenses are allocated, and what plan design alternatives could be explored,” said Musto. “Above all else, we want to help our clients – and small businesses in particular – keep their plans intact for the American workforce.”
In a PLANSPONSOR webcast presented on March 25, Dan Basile, Ascensus’ head of retirement product, shared perspective on tactics employers can leverage to foster employee engagement with their financial wellness offerings. He encourages employers to utilize multi-channel communications tactics and to identify employee advocates who can act as champions of the program to their colleagues.
He also shared insight on why Ascensus chose to partner with Financial Finesse and how we’ve incorporated their wellness tools and services into our core retirement plan product to ensure employees across businesses of all sizes could access the tools and education they need to chart a personalized savings strategy. Watch a full recording of the webcast here.
A recent SavingForCollege.com article uses Ascensus data to show that average age of 529 plan account owners when they open a 529 plan. The best time to start saving is usually between the ages of 25 and 34, as it’s advised that you should open a plan as soon as you have someone to save for. The average person on our platform opens a 529 account at 44 years old and the majority of people waited until they were at least 35. Parents who start saving when their child is a newborn can accumulate around a third of their goal from earnings by the time their child is college age, while parents that wait until high school will have to contribute six times as much per month and only 10% of their goal will come from earnings. Saving early has more of an impact than saving more.
In a recent WealthManagement.com article, Rick Irace, COO of Retirement, shares his thoughts on potential developments that retirement plan consultants should monitor through 2020. As always, plan consultants should keep up with the latest issuances from the Department of Labor, the SEC, and other government agencies. 2020 is also an election year, which means “it’ll be interesting to see what—if any—changes to the retirement plan landscape are discussed.” Advanced analytics are continuing to gain more and more prominence among plan sponsors and service providers, alike, which should advance the ability to forecast retention, gauge plan effectiveness, expand data points, and improve services.