Ascensus to Acquire Vanguard’s Small Business Retirement Plans, Expanding Its Market Leadership


DRESHER, PA —  Ascensus recently announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Vanguard’s small business retirement plans segment, including Individual 401(k), Multiple Participant SEP (Multi-SEP), and SIMPLE IRA Plans. This strategic acquisition is set to bolster Ascensus’ position as the largest administrator of retirement plans in the United States, expanding its portfolio to nearly 280,000 plans under administration.

The transaction, expected to close in the third quarter of 2024, will see Ascensus taking over recordkeeping and client servicing for Vanguard’s suite of SIMPLE, Multi-SEP, and Individual 401(k) retirement plans. Plan participants will continue to have access to Vanguard’s mutual funds through the Ascensus platform, ensuring continuity in investment options. Vanguard will retain its one-person SEP IRA offerings for small business owners without employees, while its broader retirement solutions remain unaffected by this deal.

Small businesses often seek retirement plans like Individual 401(k)s, Multi-SEPs, and SIMPLE IRAs for their simplicity and minimal administrative requirements. These plans are tailored to meet the unique needs of small enterprises, offering them the benefits of larger 401(k) plans without the complexity.

Ascensus, with over four decades of experience in the retirement plan industry, is well-positioned to enhance the service and technology offerings for the acquired accounts. Nick Good, President of Ascensus, emphasized the company’s commitment to providing small business employers with access to Vanguard’s investment products, complemented by Ascensus’ technological and operational expertise.

This acquisition not only extends Ascensus’ leadership in the retirement plan market but also underscores the growing importance of specialized administration in the small business sector. Armond Mosley, Principal and head of Vanguard’s Self-Directed business, highlighted the increasing need for deep specialization in administering small business plans, expressing confidence in Ascensus’ ability to serve these clients effectively.

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Furthermore, Ascensus and Vanguard will continue their partnership in other areas, such as the administration of Vanguard’s 529 education savings business, underscoring the ongoing relationship between the two financial services giants.

This acquisition represents a pivotal development for small business employers and their employees, promising enhanced access to retirement savings solutions through a blend of Vanguard’s investment prowess and Ascensus’ technological and administrative excellence.

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