Vanguard Rolling Out Plan Sponsor Workstation

Vanguard has announced a new tool, My Plan Manager, designed to make retirement plan sponsors’ plan data more accessible and actionable so they can help participants reach retirement goals.

The first capabilities will include a deepened set of employee information, as well as a list builder and expanded reporting functions that let plan sponsors easily target employee segments based on selected criteria. Kathy Himsworth, a principal in recordkeeping services at Vanguard Institutional Investor Group in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, explains to PLANADVISER that the platform will make all information about a client’s plans and participants available at their fingertips. With the list builder they can set parameters to get information about a subset of participants, she adds.

Himsworth says the first capabilities will be available to clients by the end of April; all capabilities will be available to clients by the end of the year. By the middle of this year, Vanguard will add data insight and visualization capabilities, an administration center and new transaction functionality, and continued enhancements to the first release. According to Himsworth, the current plan sponsor web experience provides basic transaction capabilities, but My Plan Manager will offer an improved experience. Plan sponsors will have the ability to interact more easily with Vanguard, not just through emails and phone calls, but by initiating steps through the workstation, such as participant census data changes.

In 2016, the site will include investment data and a plan governance compliance center. Himsworth explains that the governance center is where annual financial reports are stored and plan documents are housed. It is a repository with shared access to documents, compliance testing results, etc.

My Plan Manager is designed to help plan sponsors:

  • Gain insight in order to answer important questions and make informed long-term decisions. For example, Himsworth says plan sponsors can get information about participation rates by employee age group, which could help inform the decision to implement automatic enrollment. Plan sponsors can also look at investment diversification by employee groups, which may inform investment lineup decisions.
  • Manage employees and provide guidance about their retirement journey. Himsworth says plan sponsors can isolate savings and withdrawal experience by participant populations to determine information that needs to be posted on the participant website or to inform targeted behavioral-based education campaigns.
  • Influence employee behavior and maximize plan value for cost. According to Himsworth, plan sponsors will be able to compare their plan information with like plans in their industry. Benchmarking against best practices will help them make a compelling case internally to influence changes.
  • Anticipate what is happening and the trends that lie ahead. For example, plan sponsors can see which participants are calculating loans on the website but haven’t yet initiated one yet, or they can track other participant web behaviors that indicate some communication or plan design change is needed. They may also preview highly compensated and non-highly compensated participant savings activity to anticipate testing results.
  • Maintain peace of mind by resolving issues, staying compliant, and ensuring accuracy.

“A lot of times when these tools are built, there’s only a business purpose to it, but we started first with observing clients, hearing from them and building it around how they would use it,” says Himsworth. “It is not a one-size-fits-all tool, and not just information for information sake. It can be customized for each user, and is designed to truly help plan sponsors achieve their goals and help Vanguard better work with them. We think this is what will differentiate the platform from others.”