TIAA recently announced its selection of Ascensus as recordkeeper of choice for its $28 billion 529 education savings accounts business. TIAA’s 529 assets will be converted from the previous recordkeeper, DST. TIAA is currently the third-largest 529 program manager in the country, with plans in seven states, representing about 1.3 million accounts. This represents an exciting milestone for Ascensus’ Government Savings business line, as we continue to build our reputation as the 529 market leader and #1 529 program manager for assets under management.
“After a careful review of several providers based on broad criteria, the highest scoring bidder across all criteria was Ascensus,” TIAA-Cref Tuition Financing president Christopher Lynch said in a statement. “Ascensus demonstrated that they can deliver a superior customer experience now and have the ability to maintain that superior customer experience going forward.”
In a recent USA Today feature, Peg Creonte, SVP of business development for our government savings division, shared insight on the usage of 529 account savings for education expenses for beneficiaries in kindergarten through 12th grade. Ascensus data suggests a minor jump in the overall percentage of qualified 529 withdrawals made for beneficiaries ages 16 and under, at 5.5% in 2018 versus just 4% in 2016. Individual states are taking different approaches on how to educate savers on the potential use of 529 savings for K-12 related expenses, notes Creonte. “Some states are neutral…And on the other end of the spectrum, some states are actively encouraging people to use the funds for K-12,” she adds.
In Lee Barney’s recent PLANADVISER feature, SVP Peg Creonte offers insight into how state-facilitated auto-IRA programs are helping business owners recognize the value of workplace retirement programs. As these business owners and their employees get more familiar with these programs as offered by the state, they become more informed retirement plan prospects for financial advisors. “We believe that over time, as an employer grows its plan and its employees get more comfortable with setting aside money, they could become a source for financial advisers to pursue selling qualified plans to these businesses,” adds Creonte.
In a recent Savingforcollege.com article, Peg Creonte, SVP of business development for Ascensus Government Savings, discusses the ways in which beneficiaries can maximize college savings through gifting tools. Crowdfunding through programs such as Ascensus’ Ugift, the largest 529 plan gifting platform, has become increasingly popular among families saving for education. When asking for 529 plan gifts, Creonte suggests discussing 529 plan gifting opportunities with friends and family during a non-gift-giving season: “We’ve found that disconnecting the ask from the event can get people more comfortable.”
In a recent Wealth Management article, Peg Creonte, SVP of business development for Ascensus Government Savings, discusses how the recently launched CalSavers retirement program offers advisors the opportunity to engage a larger pool of business owners and prospective clients. “Ultimately, as these [auto-IRA] programs grow, these could be an opportunity for advisors, both for the participants, who are starting to accumulate assets, and also for employers who grow into a 401(k),” said Peg Creonte, “Both on the employer side and the participant side, there’s a lot of potential for advisors.”
In a recent article from The Wall Street Journal, head of government savings Kevin Cox answers questions related to 529 accounts, specifically about grandparent-owned 529s and their effect on financial aid. He also discusses important tax credit and withdrawal considerations. “Many grandparents use their funds in the later years of a beneficiary’s education to minimize the impact on need-based financial aid,” Cox says.
In a recent New York Times feature, Rob Percival, senior vice president of relationship management, shares background on how state ABLE programs have been designed to suit savers with various levels of investment experience and interest. Most programs offer account owners access to both mutual funds and traditional interest-bearing savings accounts and checking accounts with debit cards. “That gives people who are uncomfortable with putting their money at risk in the market a choice of more conservative options,” adds Rob.
In a recent article from The New York Times, Ascensus’ 529 Ugift donation program was featured. As 529 day is quickly approaching, the article seeks to answer savers’ basic questions, such as “Can I donate money to the 529 account of a relative or friend?” Ugift, which is offered in 20 states plus the District of Columbia, allows parents to share a unique code with friends and family that can be used for an electronic donation to a beneficiary’s 529 account.
In a recent BenefitsPRO article, David Musto explains that despite speculation from onlookers due to Ascensus’ recent acquisitiveness and solicitations by its owners, “there is absolutely no doubt Ascensus will be Ascensus in five years.” Ascensus’ ownership will not affect our noble purpose to help 8 million individuals save for what matters most in their lives. He also mentions that the SECURE Act’s Open MEP provisions will not disrupt Ascensus’ client base. “We feel that we are already able to deliver on the promises held out by Open MEPs. Many of the aspects that excite people—purchasing power on investments, administrative efficiency—already exist. We have the ability to deliver very cost-effective programs for small companies with high levels of client satisfaction, and high levels of efficiency for the sponsor.”