News Releases

Ascensus Appoints New Regional Vice President

Jonas Merk Joins Sales Team to Support Financial Advisors and Their Clients in the New York Metro Region

Dresher, PAAscensus—whose technology and expertise help millions of people save for retirement, education, and healthcare—is pleased to announce the appointment of Jonas Merk as regional vice president of the firm’s retirement plan sales team for the New York Metro region, covering New York City, Long Island, and Westchester County.

In this role, Merk will work with financial advisors, third-party administrators, and financial institutions—including institutional and DCIO (defined contribution investment only) partners—to build and maintain Ascensus’ retirement plan distribution networks. He will report directly to Anthony Bologna, divisional vice president of the eastern region, retirement sales.

Merk brings more than 15 years of retirement industry experience to his role, including expertise in all aspects of distribution, brand exposure, and assisting partners to scale their practices. Prior to joining Ascensus, he served as a regional vice president for Nationwide Financial, where he achieved several notable accomplishments that included development of a top five sales territory (NY Metro) and recognition as NAPA DC Wingman. Merk attended Montclair State University and holds his FINRA Series 7, 66, and 63 licenses.

“In addition to routinely achieving exceptional results for himself and his partners, Jonas possesses interpersonal skills that allow him to develop long-term, trusting relationships with clients,” says Jason Crane, head of retirement sales at Ascensus. “Adding someone of his caliber demonstrates Ascensus’ ability to attract and retain high-end talent, and is indicative of our commitment to help people save for what matters most.”

 

About Ascensus

Ascensus is the largest independent recordkeeping services provider, third-party administrator, and government savings facilitator in the United States. The firm delivers technology and expertise to help millions of people save for what matters most—retirement, education, and healthcare. For more information about Ascensus, visit ascensus.com. View career opportunities at careers.ascensus.com.


NAPA Names Two Ascensus Regional Vice Presidents to 2019 Top 100 Defined Contribution Wholesalers List

Jeff Simes and Matt Spicer, AIF®, PPC™ Recognized as Leading DC Wholesalers, as Voted on by Thousands of Retirement Plan Advisors

Dresher, PAAscensus—whose technology and expertise help millions of people save for retirement, education, and healthcare—announced that two regional vice presidents, Jeff Simes and Matt Spicer, AIF®, PPC™, have been named to the sixth annual list of NAPA Top 100 Defined Contribution (DC) Wholesalers by the National Association of Plan Advisors (NAPA). This represents a second win for Spicer, who was previously named to the 2017 edition of the list. 

The finalists for this year’s list, which recognizes the top recordkeeping and Defined Contribution Investment Only (DCIO) external wholesalers, were selected by thousands of retirement plan advisors from a list of more than 600 wholesalers nominated by NAPA Firm Partner recordkeepers and DCIOs.

According to NAPA, the award winners—referred to as the “Wingmen” for consistently having the backs of their advisor clients—represent the top 7% of an estimated 1,400 recordkeeping and DCIO external wholesalers throughout the country.

“Being named among NAPA’s Top 100 DC wholesalers is a huge accomplishment and a well-deserved recognition of Jeff and Matt’s efforts to go above and beyond for our partners and their retirement plan clients,” said Jason Crane, head of retirement distribution at Ascensus. “Congratulations to them both from the whole Ascensus team. Their work is an excellent example of the value and expertise we strive to deliver to all those saving for their future retirement, and representative of the talent we have across the broader organization.”

The complete 2019 Top 100 DC Wholesalers list is available on NAPA Net and will be published in the fall issue of NAPA Net the Magazine.

 

About Ascensus

Ascensus is the largest independent recordkeeping services provider, third-party administrator, and government savings facilitator in the United States. The firm delivers technology and expertise to help millions of people save for what matters most—retirement, education, and healthcare. For more information about Ascensus, visit ascensus.com. View career opportunities at careers.ascensus.com.


Ascensus’ Annual Savings Trends Research Reveals How Individuals Are Saving for Their Financial Futures

Proprietary Data Offers Valuable Insights into How Americans Are Contributing to 401(k), 529, Health Savings, and ABLE Accounts

Dresher, PA — Ascensus—whose technology and expertise help millions of people save for retirement, education, and healthcare—has released new insights across its universe of retirement, education, Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE), and health savings accounts on the Inside America’s Savings Plans microsite. As the nation’s largest independent recordkeeping services provider and government savings facilitator, Ascensus offers a unique, comprehensive perspective into how Americans are saving for the future.

Ascensus analyzed data across a population of over 88,000 retirement plans, 4.6 million 529 college savings accounts, 280,000+ consumer-directed healthcare accounts, and 20 ABLE plans for which it provided recordkeeping and administrative services as of 2018 year-end. The firm also highlighted health savings account (HSA) industry data from Devenir, a national leader in providing customized investment solutions for HSAs and the consumer-directed healthcare market. The following themes provide insights into how savers are engaging with these tax-advantaged savings vehicles.

Plan sponsors and savers see the value in automatic savings models:

  • 401(k) plans designed with automatic enrollment and automatic escalation features saw an average plan-weighted participation rate of 81%, which was 10 percentage points higher than that in plans without automatic enrollment.
  • In 2018, 35% of 529 account owners had scheduled recurring bank contributions and 20% of ABLE accounts leveraged automatic savings methods. Approximately 6% of 529 account owners utilize payroll direct deposit, but there is certainly more opportunity for employers to offer and promote 529 account payroll integration to help employees seamlessly make regular contributions.
  • According to Devenir, 26% of all HSA contributions came directly from an employer and 56% came from an employee through their workplace in 2018. By pairing HSAs with high deductible health plans and enabling payroll direct deposit, employers can help employees build a foundation of health savings.

Digital tools have a positive influence:

  • Ascensus’ Retirement Outlook Tool allows savers to refine retirement savings goals, illustrating how their current savings levels could impact future readiness. In 2018, 26% of first-time tool users were saving at an average rate of 8% within a few weeks of engaging with it. This suggests that access to the right planning tools can make a positive difference in getting employees closer to a savings rate of 9% or more, the minimum rate that “financially prepared” savers have selected according to Ascensus’ partner Financial Finesse, the largest independent provider of unbiased workplace financial wellness programs in the country.1
  • The firm’s Ugift platform enables family and friends to simply and securely make gifting contributions to beneficiaries’ 529 accounts. The Ugift website allows users to establish gift-giver profiles and schedule recurring gifts to streamline the process—and gifting behaviors are on the rise as a result. As of 2018 year-end, gift givers had established 26,284 online profiles and 10,438 recurring gifts. Overall, the Ugift program saw a 345% year-over-year increase in dollars gifted to 529 accounts.

Changing financial and market landscapes are influencing individuals’ savings strategies:

  • Ascensus’ 401(k) platform data highlights that individuals under 25 years old are saving at lower savings rates than those in older age groups, which suggests the need for further investigation into the impact of competing financial priorities, including student loan debt. However, there is a notable, positive difference in progress for savers between 25 and 34 years old: Of all retirement savers on our platform who have found that they are “on track” to meet their goals, 20% of them are between 25 and 34 (versus just 3% for the under-25 age group). 
  • As tuition expenses continue to rise, families see the value of investing in 529 accounts to build a foundation of education savings. The market downturn in 2018 had a minor impact on overall 529 account balances across all demographics, but this average balance still reached nearly $23,000 as of 2018 year-end. Another key trend tied to this landscape of higher education expenses is the entrance of older generations of account owners into the 529 market. Account owners ages 55 to 64 and over 65, with average beneficiary ages of 17 and 13 respectively, had the second- and third-largest average balances of all age groups, both exceeding $22,000.
  • Healthcare expenses continue to increase exponentially, with the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) reporting that the average couple will now cumulatively need $399,000 for a 90% chance to cover their healthcare expenses in retirement. Heightened awareness for these staggering costs and the increasing popularity of high deductible health plans have driven HSA enrollment to new highs. There are currently over 25 million HSAs held by savers across the U.S. with a combined $53 billion in assets.

“We’ve seen a shift in the way that individuals across different life stages are saving for themselves and their families,” said David Musto, president of Ascensus. “To continue to address the savings deficit millions are facing, our industry needs to focus on offering tools and resources that make it quick, simple, and automatic for savers to track their progress.”

“Employers, state governments, and financial advisors will continue to play an integral role in encouraging individuals to make the most of the savings vehicles and tools available to them,” Musto concludes.

For additional trends and insights from Ascensus, visit pulse.ascensus.com.

 

About Ascensus
Ascensus is the largest independent recordkeeping services provider, third-party administrator, and government savings facilitator in the United States. The firm delivers technology and expertise to help millions of people save for what matters most—retirement, education, and healthcare. For more information about Ascensus, visit ascensus.com. View career opportunities at careers.ascensus.com.

12018 Year in Review: A Closer Look, Financial Finesse Think Tank Research, May 2019.


Ascensus Associate Named a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional

Kylie Kiser Recognized as an Exceptional Technology Community Leader

Dresher, PA—Ascensus—whose technology and expertise help millions of people save for retirement, education, and healthcare—is pleased to announce that Kylie Kiser, customer relationship management (CRM) product owner, has been awarded this year’s Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award. This prestigious award, which recognizes just over 2,000 people worldwide, seeks to spotlight exceptional technology leaders in the Microsoft community who share a deep commitment to helping others.

Kiser has been an active member in the Microsoft community since 2010, specifically in the CRM User Group (CRMUG) in which she currently serves as a chapter leader for Washington, DC. Before being recognized as a Microsoft MVP, Kiser was named a CRMUG All-Star (2015) and the 2016 CRMUG chapter leader of the year.

Since joining Ascensus’ IT organization in May, Kiser has proven to be a critical member of the firm’s rapidly growing CRM team. With almost 10 years of experience driving significant CRM initiatives, her expertise has been critical to streamlining processes and creating value for clients and internal business partners. Her new Microsoft status will grant Ascensus access to Microsoft executives and senior product team members, along with the ability to engage with other MVPs and potentially impact Microsoft product innovations—keeping Ascensus on the cutting edge of the industry.

“We’re proud to have a team member like Kylie who has been recognized in the industry with such a distinguished designation,” says John Schroeder, Ascensus’ chief information officer. “It underlines our commitment to investing in Ascensus’ future as we strive to hire the industry’s leading innovators to provide our clients with the best user experiences possible.”

Along with the other members of this highly select group, Kiser’s profile is live on the Microsoft MVP website.

 

About Ascensus

Ascensus is the largest independent recordkeeping services provider, third-party administrator, and government savings facilitator in the United States. The firm delivers technology and expertise to help millions of people save for what matters most—retirement, education, and healthcare. For more information about Ascensus, visit ascensus.com. View career opportunities at careers.ascensus.com.

 


FuturePlan by Ascensus Appoints Greg Taylor as Divisional Vice President for the Southern California Region

Industry Veteran to Provide Retirement Plan Clients with Enhanced Consultative Support and Expand Relationships with Strategic Recordkeeping and Financial Advisor Partners

Dresher, PA — FuturePlan by Ascensus—the nation’s largest retirement TPA—is pleased to announce the appointment of Greg Taylor as divisional vice president (DVP) for the Southern California region.

In this role, Taylor will be responsible for helping to create and implement strategies that will drive the continued success of the FuturePlan sales team. He will also consult with sales representatives from FuturePlan’s recordkeeping partners and financial advisors whose prospective and existing small business clients could benefit from the support of a TPA in designing a retirement plan solution. Taylor joins FuturePlan’s national sales team that was announced earlier this year: Kasey Price (head of Institutional Sales), Jim Houpt (DVP of the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Central regions), Richard Tatum (DVP of the Southeast and Southwest regions), and Eric Sharp (DVP of the Northwest region).

Taylor brings more than 40 years of retirement industry experience and extensive expertise in plan design, administration, actuarial services, and recordkeeping services. He most recently served as executive vice president in charge of QBI, an Ascensus company, which he co-founded in 1978. He has been an active member in industry organizations—including the American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA) and the National Institute of Pension Administrators (NIPA)—throughout his career. Taylor received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from UCLA, where he was an offensive lineman on university’s football team.

“Greg is a well-established leader who has enjoyed tremendous success in the TPA industry by virtue of his superior work ethic and business acumen,” states Jerry Bramlett, head of FuturePlan. “Our business owner clients and key partners in the Southern California region will no doubt benefit from his ability to provide the support they need to meet their objectives.”

 

About FuturePlan by Ascensus
FuturePlan by Ascensus is the nation’s largest retirement TPA, combining high-touch local service with the strength and security of an industry leader. A business division of Ascensus, FuturePlan’s dedicated team serves more than 44,000 retirement plan sponsors in more than 40 locations across the country. For more information, visit futureplan.com.

 

About Ascensus
Ascensus is the largest independent recordkeeping services provider, third-party administrator, and government savings facilitator in the United States. The firm delivers technology and expertise to help millions of people save for what matters most—retirement, education, and healthcare. For more information about Ascensus, visit ascensus.com. View career opportunities at careers.ascensus.com.


Ascensus Selects NextCapital to Develop More Personalized Investment Options to Better Address Client Needs and Improve Retirement Outcomes

Russell Investments’ Custom-Managed 3(38) Solution Is First Offering to Take Advantage of New Capabilities

Dresher, PA — Ascensus—whose technology and expertise help millions of people save for retirement, education, and healthcare—is implementing NextCapital’s customizable technology platform to accommodate a growing need for more flexible investment and fiduciary solutions at the institutional and participant levels. Russell Investments will become the first firm to provide participant-level 3(38) protection on their Personalized Retirement Accounts (PRAs) utilizing the NextCapital technology.

Ascensus chose NextCapital—the leader in enterprise digital advice® platforms—based on its stellar reputation for enabling institutions to deliver scalable, personalized planning and advice, both inside and outside of 401(k) plans. Third parties, including financial advisors and Ascensus’ key distribution partners, can customize the NextCapital platform and assume the role of the fiduciary. Alternatively, NextCapital can serve as fiduciary while providing advice to participants.

The collaboration with NextCapital allows Ascensus to expand on its ability to:

  • deliver valued-added advice solutions to advisors and their clients;
  • offer future institutional and distribution partners the ability to implement their own fiduciary solutions; and
  • improve retirement outcomes through higher usage of advice by participants.

“Ascensus’ collaboration with NextCapital will allow us to be much more nimble and flexible when it comes to offering in-plan employee advice solutions,” states Jason Crane, head of retirement sales at Ascensus. “The addition of NextCapital’s platform will help us adhere to our philosophy of an independent, conflict-free business model.”

This is the first of many technology investments for Ascensus as it broadens its fiduciary capabilities to help advisors and plan sponsors better manage risk. The enhancement offers an opportunity for Ascensus to expand relationships by supporting unique investment management approaches with partners that complement Ascensus’ business model, philosophy, and values. One such partner is Russell Investments, which will be launching PRAs with Ascensus in August.

PRAs are leading-edge personalized and automated advice solutions for participants that can also function as a plan’s qualified default investment alternative. These personalized investment portfolios are tailored to the specific needs of the account holder and are increasingly desired by retirement plan advisors and sponsors who are looking to provide an added layer of guidance for participants.

Unlike target date funds, PRAs include factors beyond a participant’s age and target retirement date, such as gender, salary, current account holdings, contribution rates, market experience, and additional retirement assets held outside of the managed account. According to John Uricchiobusiness development director of Defined Contribution at Russell Investments, one of the biggest benefits of a PRA is how easy it is to use.

“Participant information is pulled from existing data held by the plan’s recordkeeper, minimizing the amount of participant input required to provide customized advice,” says Uricchio. “Participants also have the ability to provide additional details—such as information about outside investments—to make the recommendation even more personalized.”

“Ascensus will continue to invest in, develop, and leverage purpose-built technology to help partners who are looking to expand their product capabilities and, most importantly, drive better retirement outcomes for both present and future savers,” concludes Crane.

 

About Ascensus
Ascensus is the largest independent recordkeeping services provider, third-party administrator, and government savings facilitator in the United States. The firm delivers technology and expertise to help millions of people save for what matters most—retirement, education, and healthcare. For more information about Ascensus, visit ascensus.com. View career opportunities at careers.ascensus.com.

 

About NextCapital

NextCapital is the leader in enterprise digital advice. NextCapital partners with world-class institutions to deliver personalized planning and managed accounts to individual investors across multiple channels including 401(k), IRA, and taxable brokerage accounts. Our open-architecture digital advice solution provides integrated account aggregation, analytics, planning and portfolio management, and allows partners to customize advice methodology and fiduciary roles. “NextCapital” is a brand name representing NextCapital Group, Inc. and its wholly owned subsidiaries, NextCapital Software, Inc. and NextCapital Advisers, Inc. NextCapital Advisers, Inc. is an investment adviser registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). NextCapital Software, Inc. is not registered with the SEC and does not provide investment advice.

 

About Russell Investments
With more than 80 years of experience, Russell Investments is a global investment solutions provider, dedicated to helping investors reach their long-term goals. Russell Investments offers investment solutions in 31 countries, manages US$290 billion in assets (as of March 31, 2019) and provides consulting services on $2.3 trillion in assets (as of December 31, 2018). Russell Investments specializes in multi-asset solutions and investment and implementation services with a goal of delivering the best investment strategies, managers and asset classes to its clients around the world. Headquartered in Seattle, Washington, Russell Investments operates globally with 21 offices, providing investment services in the world’s major financial centers such as New YorkLondonTokyo and Shanghai.


Ascensus Announces Acquisition of Contractor Retirement and Benefit Solutions Provider Beneco

FuturePlan by Ascensus to Offer Advanced Expertise in Increasingly Complex and Competitive Prevailing Wage Market

Dresher, PA—Ascensus—whose technology and expertise help millions of people save for retirement, education, and healthcare—has acquired Beneco, a leading provider of bundled retirement and health & welfare benefits administration solutions in the prevailing wage market, from Alpine Investors. The firm, which offers a full suite of recordkeeping, third-party administration, and benefit plan consulting services, will immediately become part of the FuturePlan by Ascensus line of business.

Beneco, which is headquartered in Scottsdale, AZ, allies with contractors to empower them to build their businesses while helping their employees work toward a secure and prosperous future for their families. With more than three decades of benefits experience serving the prevailing wage space, Beneco has the expertise and credibility needed to serve the complex needs of prevailing wage business owners and their employees. Waller Helms Advisors served as the exclusive financial advisor to Beneco and Alpine Investors for the transaction.

“At FuturePlan, we understand that contractors face unique challenges when it comes to creating and managing an employee benefits plan while keeping the cost of their bids down,” states Jerry Bramlett, head of FuturePlan. “Beneco is one of the largest prevailing wage specialists in the country—adding their significant scale and unrivaled expertise to the FuturePlan team will allow us to help prevailing wage businesses to build a better future for their employees while giving them the ability to be more competitive with their contract bids.”

“For more than 30 years, Beneco has partnered with prevailing wage businesses all over the country to help them provide their employees with comprehensive benefits and valuable retirement plans,” states Kristy Bryson, Beneco’s chief executive officer. “We have invested time and resources to successfully position our business for the future and are excited to execute on new growth opportunities as part of FuturePlan.”

“Acquiring Beneco allows FuturePlan to significantly strengthen its position in the prevailing wage market,” says Raghav Nandagopal, Ascensus’ executive vice president of corporate development and M&A. “It also expands our presence in Arizona, which continues to be an attractive region in terms of growing our geographic footprint.”

“We continue to look at attractive opportunities that expand our existing businesses, fill product gaps, and penetrate new geographies within the retirement and health & wealth market segments,” concludes Nandagopal.

About Ascensus

Ascensus is the largest independent recordkeeping services provider, third-party administrator, and government savings facilitator in the United States. The firm delivers technology and expertise to help millions of people save for what matters most—retirement, education, and healthcare. For more information about Ascensus, visit
ascensus.com. View career opportunities at careers.ascensus.com.


Ascensus Appoints New Regional Vice President

Bryan Bracchi Joins Sales Team to Support Financial Advisors and Their Clients in the Northern Texas Region

Dresher, PA – Ascensus—whose technology and expertise helps millions of people save for retirement, education, and healthcare—is pleased to announce the appointment of Bryan Bracchi as regional vice president of the firm’s retirement plan sales team for the Northern Texas region, covering North Texas and Oklahoma.

In this role, Bracchi will work with financial advisors, third-party administrators, and financial institutions—including institutional partners and DCIO (defined contribution investment only) sales representatives—to build and maintain Ascensus’ retirement plan distribution networks. He will report directly to Chad Brown, divisional vice president of the western region, retirement sales at Ascensus.

Bracchi brings nearly 20 years of retirement industry experience to his role, including expertise on territory development and fostering strong client relationships. Prior to joining Ascensus, he served as vice president, senior retirement plan strategist at Franklin Templeton Investments and vice president, retirement plan consultant at Oppenheimer Funds. Bracchi earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Business—Human Resource Management from Auburn University and holds his FINRA Series 7, 63, and 66 licenses along with his Accredited Investment Fiduciary® and Certified Health Savings Adviser designations®.

“Bryan’s deep industry knowledge and excellent communication skills allow him to establish a rapport with clients that helps him to accurately assess—and ultimately meet—their needs,” states Jason Crane, head of retirement sales at Ascensus. “We’re looking forward to watching him apply his professional and interpersonal skills to building and maintaining advisor relationships in the Northern Texas region.”

 

About Ascensus
Ascensus is the largest independent recordkeeping services provider, third-party administrator, and government savings facilitator in the United States. The firm delivers technology and expertise to help millions of people save for what matters most—retirement, education, and healthcare. For more information about Ascensus, visit ascensus.com. View career opportunities at careers.ascensus.com.

Ascensus President David Musto to Assume Chief Executive Officer Responsibilities in 2020, Bob Guillocheau to Remain Chairman

Dresher, PA — Ascensus—whose technology, expertise, and collaborative partnership help more than nine million people save for retirement, education, and healthcare—announced today that David Musto, currently president of the organization, will add chief executive officer (CEO) responsibilities to his role, effective January 1, 2020Bob Guillocheau, currently chairman and CEO of Ascensus, will continue to serve as chairman.

“I’m delighted that David will soon be leading our organization forward as CEO,” said Guillocheau. “His deep industry perspective, expertise, and leadership skills are exactly what we need to take Ascensus to the next level and grow our competitive advantage.”

Musto added, “I’m honored by the opportunity to build on what Bob has achieved for Ascensus. Our commitment to our clients, partners, and associates has never been stronger, and our investments in our capabilities and services will only continue to grow.”

Musto joined Ascensus in 2017. As president, he is responsible for growing the company’s existing businesses. With more than 30 years of experience in financial services, he previously served as president of Great-West Investments, executive vice president of Empower Retirement, and CEO of J.P. Morgan Retirement Plan Services. His early career spans executive roles with Prudential Financial, CIGNA, and Kamoon, a start-up financial software company. Musto earned an MBA in Finance and International Business from NYU-Stern School of Business and a BBA in Finance from The College of William and Mary.

Guillocheau is a financial services industry veteran with more than 35 years of experience. He joined the company in 2003 and has held the role of CEO since 2005. Guillocheau was named chairman in 2017. Previously, he was executive vice president and general manager of First Data Retirement Services, chief operating officer of ChannelWave, and chief financial officer for Mellon Bank’s Mutual Fund Services Group. He holds a B.S. in Economics and Accounting from The College of the Holy Cross.

 

About Ascensus
Ascensus is the largest independent recordkeeping services provider, third-party administrator, and government savings facilitator in the United States. The firm delivers technology and expertise to help millions of people save for what matters most—retirement, education, and healthcare. For more information about Ascensus, visit ascensus.com. View career opportunities at careers.ascensus.com.