Growing up, the market fascinated me. A high-school athlete turned college recruit, a busted knee forced me to give up my football scholarship and recover with a degree in finance. It was one of the best things to ever happen to me.
Fast forward through many years of pounding the pavement at industry leaders like Northern Trust, Fiserv, and Citi to when I co-founded my first company: FolioDynamix (now part of Envestnet (NYSE: ENV)). It had the same highs and lows of my sports days while fueling my interest in the market. We were leveraging technology to tackle the much-outdated wealth space. But I was also leading a business and trying to do right by our employees when we took particular notice of our company’s 401(k) fees. To put it lightly, things weren’t looking good. We had a staff filled with CFAs, and there was a whole lot of head scratching going on. I knew enough about technology, advisors, and online investing to know there had to be a better way. The seed had been planted.
After we sold Folio, I couldn’t shake the idea of solving the root cause that has held back the American workers’ futures. Leveraging the years of knowledge built working with industry leaders and technologists, I was convinced there had to be a better way. I knew if I was going to sign up for the journey, it had to happen now. So, I dug in.
While the challenge started off as tackling the world of retirement, it was clear this new company was meant to be so much more than that. We built Vestwell to be the de facto platform for all workplace savings and investing, starting with the 401(k). Why? Because for most Americans, their 401(k) is their first - if not only - invested asset. Which means that to truly have impact, it’s important to begin there...but not to stop there. The way long-term savings gets invested over time is not only different for different people, but ever evolving. And while most people aren’t as fascinated by the market as I am, it’s also why technology is imperative for building a better experience, as well as better outcomes. Leveraging a fintech platform with smart learning, modern APIs, and a completely digital interface, means we can help anyone regardless of their financial savvy.
So, what is Vestwell? Vestwell is a cloud-based modern recordkeeping platform providing the underlying infrastructure to power workplace savings programs, leading with the 401(k), at scale. Built by industry experts and an army of technologists and developers, Vestwell helps people more easily offer, administer, and access workplace investing programs. We do that by partnering with financial institutions - think wirehouses, RIAs, asset managers, insurance providers, and the like - TPAs, payroll providers, and even fellow recordkeepers, to give them the benefits of running their own modern-day recordkeeper without the investment of building and managing one. For those who were loss-leaders when it came to recordkeeping, we are now giving them the ability to profitably scale while also enabling them to engage more closely with the end user. We’re configurable, unbundled, and open-architecture, built to ensure everyone can deliver the solution that’s right for them. You might not have heard of us, nor should you have, as we’re typically the white labeled engine inside. Our partners are in the driver’s seat and we’re just making sure the ride goes smoothly.
The benefit is that everyone gets an easier, more affordable, and more enjoyable savings experience, including the advisor, the plan sponsor, and ultimately, the participant. Because at the end of the day, it’s all about the end user. Fortunately, I have hundreds of them sitting next to me every day in the Vestwell office. And as with FolioDynamix, I am ultimately trying to do right by our employees. As a result, there’s hard work being done every day to continue to bring them - and you - the experience all investors want and deserve.
While helping establish his company’s own 401(k), Aaron lives the pain small businesses have in creating, managing, and participating in a plan. Then he looked at his fees...
Aaron sells FolioDynamix and knows what he wants to tackle next...build a workplace retirement platform to fix the problem for the providers whose hands are often tied.
While helping a friend further build and scale Quovo (a data aggregation company acquired by Plaid), Aaron hones his thesis on why the workplace savings and investing industry has been stuck in the past.
Vestwell is born in a small WeWork space in downtown NYC, thanks to $4.5mm in funding from FinTech Collective, F-Prime Capital, Primary Venture Partners, and Commerce Ventures.
Vestwell signs 50+ RIAs, leading to an $8mm Series A round led by F-Prime Capital, the VC group associated with Fidelity Investments.
With more than 50 employees, Vestwell is working with hundreds of advisors to help thousands of participants save for retirement.
Goldman Sachs leads Vestwell's Series B round joined by Point 72 Ventures, Nationwide, Allianz Life Ventures, BNY Mellon, and Franklin Templeton along with participation from all previous investors.
While a tumultuous year for many, Vestwell has its best year ever, growing over 100% and signing enterprise-level deals with some of the world’s largest providers.