Vanguard Launches New Retirement Plan Comparison Tool

Vanguard, one of the leaders in index investing, has rolled out a new retirement plan comparison tool that enables plan sponsors to benchmark their defined contribution plans against Vanguard's nearly 2,000 recordkept plans.

Powered by Vanguard's How America Saves data, the new tool allows plan sponsors to answer questions including whether participants are saving enough and if the plan offers a strong variety of investment options, among other things. How America Saves is Vanguard's annual pulse check of the defined contribution retirement plan market. With more than $1 trillion in defined contribution assets under management as of March 31, 2017, and with the company serving more than 8,500 plans in its defined contribution recordkeeping business, Vanguard has unique insights into how Americans are saving.

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Using the tool, plan sponsors can choose a slew of topics to compare their plans against, including account balances, asset allocations, contribution allocations, contribution types and participation rates, to name a few.  According to Vanguard, the new tool enables plan sponsors to make more effective plan decisions based on industry and plan data, view the retirement savings behavior of more than four million Vanguard recordkept plan participants, and develop and analyze customized reports.

The retirement plan comparison tool isn't the only product news out of Vanguard this week. Earlier, the firm announced that it is teaming up with technology provider Symbiont and the Center for Research in Security Prices (CRSP) to harness the power of blockchain to enable index data to move instantly between index providers and market participants. Blockchain is the software that lets users store and keep track of information in a decentralized digital ledger. It has gained widespread recognition thanks to the surge in bitcoin, the cryptocurrency that started the year around $1,000 but was recently trading at more than $17,200.

According to Vanguard, as it stands now, index data transmission to investment professionals is reliant on multiple parties and distribution channels. During the course of the past several months, Vanguard and CRSP have been testing blockchain, with CRSP distributing daily index data to Vanguard in a testing environment via Symbiont's blockchain platform. Throughout the testing, Vanguard said that blockchain has served to expedite data delivery, remove the need for manual updates and reduce risks. Given the success of the initial pilot, CRSP will deliver index data and intra-day updates to Vanguard over the private blockchain network in early 2018, Vanguard said, noting that the three collaborators will use the results from the initiative for future blockchain efforts.