Empower Announces Consumer Wealth Management Division

Services include combining, monitoring, and advising wealth across investments, including workplace retirement plans.

Empower, the country’s second-largest recordkeeper by assets, has announced a further expansion into wealth management with its Empower Personal Wealth division, offering financial advisory, planning and investment services to consumers.

The Greenwood Village, Colorado-based firm made the announcement roughly three years after its $1 billion acquisition of Personal Capital, a registered investment adviser and wealth manager whose infrastructure was part of the new division’s development. Carol Waddell, who Empower named in January as head of its individual investor unit, will be president of Empower Personal Wealth, overseeing the firm’s expansion into wealth management.

“Empower Personal Wealth represents the next generation of advice through people and technology,” Waddell said in a statement. “We’re here to help answer people’s money questions, so they can take on what’s next in life, work, and play.”

One of the firm’s key digital offerings, Personal Strategy+, already has more than $2.1 billion under management, according to a spokesperson. With the service, Empower will manage a client’s total portfolio, including their employer-sponsored retirement accounts such as 401(k) and 403(b). The service is an option chosen by individual investors; plan sponsors do not need to be involved, the spokesperson said.

The move by Empower represents a trend in the retirement space of serving both the advisement and wealth management needs of plan participants. Those participants, many of whom are in “set-it-and-forget” funds, are increasingly facing questions of how to manage multiple retirement accounts from different jobs, as well as how to manage decumulation of their savings in retirement.

Empower, which has $1.3 trillion in DC assets under administration, bills its consumer money management focus as a way to “harmonize” people’s savings with all aspects of individuals’ “fragmented” money management experience. As part of that offering, Personal Strategy+ will allow customers to create a dashboard including things such as retirement plans, credit cards, loans and other investments.

Empower has grown over the past decade through a series of combinations that began with Great-West Financial and continued more recently with the acquisitions of the retirement plan businesses MassMutual and Prudential Financial. The firm now has more than 17 million retirement plan participants. 

There is an added fee for consumers to use Personal Strategy+, though Empower said it does not break out specific fees. Investment products within the service include Empower Personal Cash, a high-yield cash account and tool for family finances and budgeting.

As part of its push into the consumer wealth market, Empower recently launched a new personal finance news site and newsletter, The Currency, and a brand campaign, “Empower What’s Next,” with TV commercials airing nationwide.