Morgan Stanley and Ascensus Launch Retirement Program

The two firms collaborated to launch ClearFit, a turnkey solution for small plans which combines Morgan Stanley fiduciary and investment services with Ascensus administration.

ClearFit is a retirement program in which Morgan Stanley Wealth Management serves as a 3(38) fiduciary under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Taking a multi-manager approach and utilizing an investment menu comprised of non-proprietary funds, Morgan Stanley will assume responsibility for selecting investments and applying its proprietary glide paths. The firm notes these models are used to provide employees with an easy way to select investments aligned with their goals and timeframe for retirement. 

Ascensus will leverage its technology to help plans remain compliant by offering various administrative services including managing retirement account withdrawal, loan and distribution approvals managed by Ascensus, delivery of certain required notices directly to participants’ homes, and digital and mobile solutions to help boost employee participation.

“Business owners today have a lot on their plate beyond managing and growing their businesses,” explains Marc Brookman, managing director at Morgan Stanley. “They recognize the importance of offering a competitive retirement program to attract and retain top talent, but generally do not have the time or resources to administer the complexities of most plans. We take the burden off their shoulders and onto ours, so they can remain focused on building their businesses, while giving their employees a clear and convenient way to plan or prepare for retirement.”

Kathleen Connelly, executive vice president of client experience and relationship management at Ascensus adds, “ClearFit is a smart, contemporary solution for business owners who want to deliver a retirement program to their employees that helps them effectively plan for the future. Partnering with Morgan Stanley, we have developed a simple approach for employers to meet their fiduciary responsibilities, while contributing toward the financial well-being of their employees. Our turnkey platform takes the complexity out of plan administration, so they can spend more time focusing on growth strategies for their businesses.”