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Triathlons, Retirement, & More: Meet Kevin Gaston, Vestwell's Director of Plan Design

Triathlons, Retirement, & More: Meet Kevin Gaston, Vestwell's Director of Plan Design

Vestwell is excited to have Kevin Gaston join as our Director of Plan Design. With a storied career spanning from one end of the retirement field to another, Kevin’s experience and positive energy are a major asset for the Vestwell team. Not only does Kevin bring with him almost 20 years of industry experience, but he is also an active member of the professional retirement community, serving as the Vice President of Programs, Board of Directors for the American Society of Pension Professionals (ASPPA) Benefits Council of Atlanta.

In sitting down with Kevin, we had the opportunity to ask him about his career, his passions, and what he sees happening in retirement moving forward.

To start: Who is Kevin Gaston? What did your career look like before coming to Vestwell?

“It’s kind of funny because usually people go in the opposite direction I’ve gone in my career. Typically, if someone’s going to move from one area of retirement to another, they’re going to start in a compliance or admin position. First they’re doing the books, then they’re in front of the client. I did the opposite. I started as an advisor, moved into wholesaling, then moved into client services, and now I’m here.

It’s interesting to have seen so much of the industry. I like knowing how things work. That’s what a lot of my career has been defined by. ‘Why is a process done this way? What makes it work?’ That’s what compliance is to me. More than just following the rules, it’s asking ‘Why do the rules work this way?’ A lot of my career over the years has been taking the technical side of the business and making it something that’s easy to understand for people.”

In taking a non-traditional path to your current career, what unique insights would you say you’ve picked up?

“I first had to connect with people—that’s sales. Then I had to understand the product and how to problem solve with it—that’s client services. Now I can take my technical chops, problem solving skills, and ability to connect with people, and use it all to drive outcomes that are better for everyone.

We’ve all known someone who walks in a room and knows everything, but just can’t connect with you. You don’t want to hear what they have to say. I think where I bring a unique perspective is that I can sit down with a client, or an advisor, or a TPA, and say ‘Look I feel your pain, here’s what we can do.’”

Vestwell’s mission is to “democratize access to savings programs for all Americans.” How do you feel about our mission?

“It’s not just good, it’s necessary. I think the worst thing you can do is wait for Congress to fix it, but Vestwell isn’t doing that. We’re trying to have a hand in solving this. We’re actively going after plans that companies in another time might not have been interested in. To me, that is innovative because you’re opening a new market, but it’s also great because you’re giving people access to savings they normally wouldn’t have.”

In your mind, what do you think are some of the most interesting developments in retirement or plan design?

“We are starting to talk about retirement savings the way we talk about other things, like healthcare. As an example, if you said to your workplace ‘I decline healthcare,’ an HR person wouldn’t hesitate to call you up and ask ‘Oh, do you have other healthcare?’ If you said “No, I just don’t make mistakes,” they’d be thrown for a loop. They’d ask “Are you sure?” However, if you choose to opt out of the company retirement plan, you’d likely never hear from HR about it.

On the bright side, I think we’re getting more comfortable with things like auto-enrollment, auto-reenrollment, putting people in the right investments, and encouraging them to stay in the right investments for their goals. I think we’re getting past this idea that ‘money is paternal if you adjust it, but healthcare isn’t.’ We’re realizing that we still need to help people in that way.”

I can’t help but notice the medals hanging behind you there. What kind of personal hobbies are you involved in?

“Those are actually for triathlons, some are duathlons, and some are aquabikes. This year I’ve stretched out and tried different multi-sport events just to see how I like them. Running is not my favorite, but aquabike is super fun. I like to say instead of ‘swim bike run’ it’s ‘swim bike done.’ Overall, triathlons, training, and endurance sports are my big ones when it comes to physical fitness.

I’m also active in the American Society of Pension Professionals. I work with people there to get education events up and running. To give you an example, I helped set up an event where we gathered 40 different people from the retirement plan space—advisors, TPAs, you name it—got them into a room together, and listened to a speaker talk about how they grow their centers of influence. It’s about helping people in our industry get better at what they do.”

Join Kevin (And Others!) as Part of the Vestwell Team

Vestwell is hiring in roles all across our organization! Whether you're interested in reinventing the retirement space, or just want to surround yourself with intelligent, affable, and driven people like Kevin Gaston, 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.

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