Vestwell is excited to have had Josh Forstater as a long-time member of the team. Josh joined Vestwell soon after our founding in 2016, and has since held positions across a range of important functions—bringing a wealth of talent and drive to each role he’s held.
In sitting down with Josh, we had the opportunity to ask him about his career, his passions, and how he thinks about leading a national sales team.
In 2014, I ran European coverage for the Boston region for an investment banking firm called Nomura. During that time, I looked at this emerging trend we call FinTech today. I was blown away by emerging robo-advisors, trading platforms, digital currencies, and other trends that were disrupting the industry. I decided to leave my role and go to business school where I caught the FinTech bug.
By 2016, I was convinced the 401(k) market was ripe for change. I got connected with our Founder Aaron through a former classmate now at FinTech Collective. I saw that Aaron and I shared the same belief: the small plan market was highly inefficient. We thought that bringing a modern retirement plan platform would allow plan advisors to drive scale through better technology. I joined Aaron’s team, and the rest is history.
Oh, Aaron was “the guy.” Aaron had just come out of FolioDynamix and Vestwell had a mighty six or so employees at the time. Aaron and I were completely mission aligned, and he completely sold me. I have a tremendous respect for anyone who’s a serial entrepreneur and wants to take a second leap into the unknown. I’ve learned a ton from Aaron.
At Vestwell I’ve been fortunate to be in a lot of different roles. My first title was VP of Customer Development. In true startup fashion, it meant doing pretty much everything. Then I was the first VP of Product Management, but really my skill set is in Business Development, so then I became the first VP and SVP of Partnerships. Now I run the National Sales team.
I think what I really bring to the table is a deep understanding of what value Vestwell can bring to our constituencies: advisors, payroll providers, and enterprises. That’s helpful in our go-to-market, since we do well by helping our partners do well. I try to balance being as strategic as I can with being very tactical. Really, I think the thing that gets me out of bed every day is that there are 30 million small businesses but only 600,000 small plans. I want to empower our partners to help close that gap, and to do that day to day we need to be tactical - getting the message to potential clients, expanding our sales force on the grind, and finding great opportunities to partner.
The 401(k) market is evolving quickly. I like to find people who have a deep passion for what we do, which is servicing small businesses and partnering with advisors, TPAs, and payroll providers. Then I also like to see them have a vision for how sales is evolving. As sales tech stacks have evolved, there’s new ways to sell virtually that didn’t exist before. Can you combine modern techniques with an ability to be on the ground and wholesale to advisors, TPAs, and payroll reps?
The best salespeople I see are able to merge both of those philosophies in a highly effective way to win plans. I love people who are challenging advisors to think differently about how they can grow their business, or who think about alternative areas of distribution across payroll providers and other areas.
There are three things that really excite me. First, I’m appreciative of all the support we’ve had from our partners. We’ve been fortunate to partner with Morgan Stanley, SRP, Toast, Patriot, and many other firms. We continue to grow our partnerships and invest behind them with the right distribution support.
The second thing that excites me is how we’ve expanded regionally. We know advisors need a local sales point-of-contact who can be a true partner to them. Today, we’ve grown to 20 salespeople in the field across advisor, payroll, and TPA sales coverage. I’d like to see that expand to the top 30 major-metropolitan areas covered for advisors, a set of territories to support our growing payroll partnerships, and a really robust coverage for our TPA partners. We’ve made key hires recently, with Murray Glass to lead TPA coverage and new Regional VPs to cover Ohio/Michigan, North Texas/Oklahoma, and New England.
The third thing that excites me is that Vestwell’s capabilities, technology, service, and brand have been vastly improving. That’s enabling us to expand our offering. We’re having a ton of success looking at pooled plans, including group of plan structures, closed MEPs with PEOs, and other opportunities that will allow Vestwell to help advisors, payroll providers, and other partners to close the coverage gap for small businesses.
I have two kids, Margaret and James—they’re three and one-years-old—and my wife Claire and my dog Pepper. I like to spend a lot of time with them. I take my daughter to ballet. I like to go running as a hobby, and unfortunately, with two little kids those are pretty much all the hobbies I have time for.
When I do have time, I love to watch Philadelphia sports and Villanova basketball—surprise surprise as an alum. I also like to go to some of the local horse events and restaurants, of course.
Vestwell is hiring in roles across our organization! Whether you have the same drive to remake the 401(k) industry like Josh, or just want to surround yourself with smart and driven people, we'd love to count you as part of the team.
Learn more about the opportunities available at Vestwell by checking our careers page, here.