Ascensus to Acquire Vanguard Individual 401(k), Multi-SEP, and SIMPLE IRA Plans

Image: Ascensus to Acquire Vanguard Individual 401(k), Multi-SEP, and SIMPLE IRA Plans

Ascensus announced today a definitive agreement to acquire Vanguard’s Individual 401(k), Multiple Participant SEP (Multi-SEP), and SIMPLE IRA Plans business.

Under the transaction, Ascensus will assume recordkeeping and client servicing for Vanguard’s current line-up of SIMPLE, Multi-SEP, and Individual 401(k) retirement plans, and increase its overall retirement plans under administration to nearly 280,000 plans. 

Ascensus will provide custodial and trustee services, recordkeeping, client servicing, transaction processing, tax reporting, and other services, and plan participants will retain access to a diverse lineup of Vanguard mutual funds via the Ascensus platform. Vanguard will continue to offer a one-person SEP IRA for small business owners who do not employ others. This agreement does not include Vanguard’s other retirement solutions.

SIMPLE, SEP, and Individual 401(k) retirement plans are best suited for the needs of small businesses. An Individual 401(k) plan is ideal for owner-only businesses looking for many of the same advantages of larger 401(k) plans. Multi-SEP and SIMPLE IRA Plans offer participants a simplified retirement savings solution with minimal administrative burden for the plan sponsor.

With more than four decades of industry experience, Ascensus is deeply committed to serving the unique needs of small business retirement plans. Already the largest administrator of retirement plans in the U.S., Ascensus extends its leadership position and offer to this key market segment with the acquisition.

The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2024 and the acquired business will operate as part of the Ascensus Retirement line of business.

“This acquisition offers small business employers continued access to Vanguard’s investment strength and the technology, expertise, and operational excellence that clients have come to expect from Ascensus,” said Ascensus President Nick Good. “Plan sponsors and participants also will benefit from Ascensus’ commitment to providing flexible and intuitive digital experiences and sophisticated underlying technology, including a modern account management platform optimized for plan administration.”

“The breadth and nuance of small business plan administration increasingly requires deep specialization, and we believe business owners and their employees will be best served by an organization with significant expertise and scale in serving Multi-SEP, SIMPLE IRA, and Individual 401(k) savers,” said Armond Mosley, Principal, head of Vanguard’s Self-Directed business. “We know that clients in these plans will benefit from Ascensus’ longstanding commitment to helping these small business clients meet their retirement objectives.”

Separately, Ascensus provides recordkeeping and other administrative services for Vanguard’s 529 education savings business serving individual investors.

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About Ascensus

Ascensus is a market-leading enabler of tax-advantaged savings—providing technology, services, and expertise that help millions of people save for a better future.

The company is a premier savings program service provider, third-party administrator, and government savings facilitator. Its platforms, industry knowledge, and data-based insights enhance the growth and success of its partners, their clients, and savers through co-branded, private-labeled, and governmental partnerships.

Ascensus offers comprehensive qualified and nonqualified retirement plan solutions, third-party retirement plan administration, 529 education and ABLE savings program administration, corporate- and bank-owned life insurance solutions, and fiduciary and total rewards services.

The company’s brands include Ascensus; Newport, an Ascensus company; and FuturePlan by Ascensus. Ascensus has more than $760 billion in assets under administration and employs more than 5,400 associates as of December 31, 2023.

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About Vanguard

Founded in 1975, Vanguard is one of the world's leading investment management companies. The firm offers investments, advice, and retirement services to tens of millions of individual investors around the globe—directly, through workplace plans, and through financial intermediaries. Vanguard operates under a unique, investor-owned structure where Vanguard fund shareholders own the funds, which in turn own Vanguard. As such, Vanguard adheres to a simple purpose: To take a stand for all investors, to treat them fairly, and to give them the best chance for investment success. For more information, visit