If the financial industry wants to provide more Americans with advice, it should try to meet them where they already are.
That’s the rationale behind NextCapital’s latest upgrade to its 401(k) digital advice platform. The new features allow its platform to replace target-date funds as the default option in 401(k) plans and offer more holistic advice to savers.
“These plans are the primary place where 88 million American save for retirement,” says Rob Foregger, co-founder of NextCapital. “We thought ‘Why not create a digital advice experience around their 401(k)?’ That’s what’s unique about our model, it starts with the 401(k), but allows account aggregation, driving that level of personalization for consumers. Our customers, mostly large financial institutions, can now rapidly bring to market full-stack digital advice solutions using their own methodologies.”
NextCapital is an enterprise digital advice provider whose strategies are currently used by TransAmerica and Russell Investments. The upgrade transforms the front end of NextCapital’s software to offer holistic retirement advice for 401(k) plans.
Foregger, who also co-founded digital advice provider Personal Capital and the direct-to-consumer EverBank, says that the new platform will help expose a larger segment of investors to digital advice and retirement planning services.
“What they want is personalized advice that can be scalable and low cost,” Foregger says. “Technology is taking us beyond manufactured products and towards personalized solutions.”
Foregger also hopes the new offering will bring 401(k) management more in line with the Department of Labor’s proposed fiduciary rule.
“The Department of Labor is asking for something more from the industry,” Foregger says. “Target-date funds were a good solution 10 years ago, but now technology is in place to deliver all these important components into an individual account. Target-date funds are a semi-personalized vehicle, there’s currently $800 billion invested in them, and there’s another $80 billion going into them each year as qualified default investment alternatives.”
NextCapital’s platform incorporates open architecture to allow institutions to use their proprietary investment methodologies and reduce implementation risk. The software connects to 401(k) recordkeeping systems to create an accessible platform, which enables bulk re-enrollment as the plan’s qualified default investment alternative.
“Where the Department of Labor is trying to push the industry is what I call ‘defined contribution 2.0,’” Foregger says. “We’re moving back towards a more delegated solution, where customers delegate savings and portfolio advice to a professional who manages these accounts in a low-cost, personalized way.”