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NextCapital Launches 'Digital Advisor' for 401(k)s

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With its eyes on the $700 billion target-date fund market, NextCapital Group has launched a digital technology that will help advisors bring managed accounts to 401(k) participants.

Using a methodology developed by Russell Investments, which recently led a round of funding for NextCapital, advisors can build models and pick investments for 401(k) plans. They can then use the platform to help the participants manage their portfolios.

The managed accounts will have a low enough cost to serve as default investment options in company plans, the firm says.

“We’re a digital advisor that works with large partners to deliver world-class advice and investment management  at the lowest cost on the market,” NextCapital CEO John Patterson said in a statement. “This global market requires a different approach, combining a new kind of platform for investors with a select group of longstanding players.”

Participants connect their brokerage, IRA, and 401(k) accounts to the NextCapital website. The platform works with most major 401(k) providers, including Fidelity and Vanguard.

Plan participants can choose to share their information with the advisor.

New technology that falls into the realm of being a robo-advisor can make some nervous. Many advisors fear technology being an adversary to their business, when in fact it could be an asset.

“This new technology will allow advisors to pick the funds they want to go into certain plans,” Dirk Quayle, NextCapital president, told ThinkAdvisor. “They are then able to work with the Russell methodology to pick what portfolios get certain plans.

“The advisor can still do a lot — they can pick investments and put models together, but the upside is that they get our [expertise and guidance] to pick which one works best.”

The Russell methodology is the “investing brain” driving the platform, Quayle says.

Quayle says there are two levels of service that come with the digital advisor. The first one is a bit pricier and includes help from a call center, and the less expensive option has an automated service for users.

The company wants to provide a customizable alternative to TDFs because their generic approach to asset allocation doesn’t factor in aspects of a person other than age.

Managed accounts, on the other hand, are costlier than TDFs.  NextCapital hopes to streamline that process of managing client portfolios with a reduced cost and more personalization.

“We have been working with NextCapital for more than a year to deliver our clients a more personalized asset allocation for their defined contribution participants — a solution we call Russell Adaptive Retirement Accounts,” said Josh Cohen, managing director and head of Russell’s institutional defined contribution business, in a statement. “As we look ahead, we anticipate demand for these types of enhanced default investment solutions to grow. Our expanded relationship with NextCapital will allow us to continue to find technology-enhanced ways to deliver Russell’s investment expertise to a larger number of individual investors in an efficient and cost-effective way.”

Check out Morningstar, Redtail Partner on Enhanced User Interface on ThinkAdvisor.


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