Empower and E*TRADE Consolidate Stock Plan Service

The firms are brining equity compensation and retirement planning into a single user experience.

Empower Retirement and E*TRADE have announced a new partnership through which they will create a “one-stop user experience” that allows employees to see their retirement and stock plan accounts in one place.

Ken Forsythe, vice president for business development with Empower, tells PLANADVISER this alliance between his firm and E*TRADE will allow employees to model their stock plan and retirement plan balances into their retirement projections. As Forsythe explains, the integrated service will be offered to employers who provide equity compensation plans through E*TRADE and retirement plan services from Empower. Employees will gain a single sign-on experience between both platforms and will also have access to both customer service teams.

Expected to be available later this year, the new service from Empower and E*TRADE will come with no additional charge for employers, according to the firms.

“This is part of a broader trend,” Forsythe says. “Employers and employees want to see a consolidated view of their workplace financial benefits. A few years ago we integrated information about health savings accounts into our platform, and we have seen great results come out of that effort. We will continue to go down this path.”

Forsythe says Empower made the decision to partner with E*TRADE on stock plan services given the increasing importance of such benefits to the mid- and long-term financial stability of American workers. He adds that the record low unemployment rate spotlights benefits generosity, making stock plans a potentially powerful recruiting and retention tool for employers.

In terms of the choice to go with E*TRADE, Forsythe points to the firm’s existing scale in the space, and the quality of the user experience for both employers and employees.

“For employers, in particular, the E*TRADE platform offers a tremendous amount of flexibility in terms of how much day-to-day administration is required,” Forsythe explains. “That’s something unique and appealing about E*TRADE.”

As to whether this announcement is in any way related to the news that Morgan Stanley is in the process of acquiring E*TRADE, Forsyth says the answer is a flat “no.”

“You can imagine that these partnerships take quite a bit of time to put together,” he adds. “This new partnership has been in the works for some time. In deference to our partners at E*TRADE, we’re really not in a position to comment on that acquisition.”