Betterment for Business Adds Ex-DOL Official to Advisory Board

A former BlackRock retirement strategist is also joining the advisory board of the firm's 401(k) division, and both newcomers are women

Betterment CEO Jon Stein. Betterment CEO Jon Stein.

Betterment for Business, the digital advisor’s division serving 401(k) retirement plans, has added a former Labor Department official and BlackRock strategist to his advisory board.

(Related on ThinkAdvisor: Killing Fiduciary Rule Seen as New DOL Chief’s Top Priority)

Judy Mares was a deputy assistant secretary for policy in the Labor Department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration and a member of the leadership team that developed the department’s fiduciary rule guidance on ESG investing and shareholder engagement among other initiatives.

Laraine McKinnon most recently served as the retirement readiness strategist at BlackRock, where she worked for over two decades and built and delivered defined contribution tools and analytics supporting financial advisors as well as senior finance and HR executives.

“Their deep expertise in the defined contribution space and strong advocacy for retirees will help further our mission to empower people to take control of their financial futures and make the most of everything they earn,” said Cynthia Loh, general manager of Betterment for Business, in a statement.

(Related on ThinkAdvisor: Why a Diluted Fiduciary Rule Is Bad for Advisors: Betterment, CFP Board)

Betterment has been a vocal supporter of the fiduciary rule. In his last comment letter on the then-proposed 60-day delay of the rule from the April 10 effective date — which the Labor Department subsequently implemented — CEO Jon Stein wrote that, contrary to arguments made by others in the financial industry, “investors will not be deprived of advice if the fiduciary rule becomes effective. To the contrary, investors will be far more likely to receive advice that is in their own interests — worthy of actually being called ‘advice’ — rather than conflicted pitches for high-fee products.”

Mares and McKinnon join John Casey, director of global benefits at Google; Thomas Clark Jr., partner at The Wagner Law Group; Stig Nybo, retirement industry strategist; and Ray Kanner, former chief investment officer at IBM on the Betterment for Business advisory board.

Betterment for Business, which has been operating for more than two years, currently serves more than 300 retirement plans, according to a spokeswoman. Parent company Betterment manages $9 billion in assets across more than 250,000 accounts, including 401(k) accounts.

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