Perspectives : DC Retirement | May 10, 2022

Relationships rooted in results

In an increasingly uncertain and complicated world, it's more important than ever to help retirement plan participants meet today's financial needs while continuing to build toward long-term retirement goals.

Vanguard's approach to meeting this challenge: A financial well-being approach focused on the things we believe can most powerfully drive retirement success—holistic wellness tools and resources, trusted advice, and disciplined investments.

Importantly, we aren't doing it alone.

When we determine the best way to improve outcomes is to work with who we believe to be a world-class third-party provider, we collaborate together to improve employee outcomes. Such is the case with our financial wellness experience.

To help participants tackle the obstacles that stand in the way of successfully saving for retirement, we work with third-party providers to bring health savings accounts (HSAs) and equity compensation services to our digital financial wellness experience. As we continue to evolve our financial wellness experience, we'll evaluate whether a new service or experience is best built in-house or whether a third-party provider would provide the best outcomes for your participant.

Of course, virtually all recordkeepers use third-party service providers to some degree, regardless of whether they acknowledge it or not. But a successful relationship relies on the strength of the selection process and effective oversight.

A framework for success

We follow a rigorous search and vetting process to ensure we identify third-party providers who can deliver proven results and are aligned with Vanguard's core mission. Some of the most important criteria include:

  • Bringing best-in-class capabilities, services, and expertise.
  • Producing long-term service value to plan sponsors and eligible employees.
  • Maintaining the highest security and risk-and-control management standards.
  • Having an inherent philosophical alignment with Vanguard and our values.

Using this process, we have demonstrated an ability to successfully manage third-party relationships and service integrations across our full-service retirement plan offer.

We engaged with Infosys, allowing us to build the industry's first fully cloud-native recordkeeping technology platform. We've also developed relationships with:

  • EQ, a leading shareholder services company, to provide equity compensation services to plan sponsor clients and their participants.
  • Newport Group to offer nonqualified plan support.
  • TD Ameritrade for retirement plan brokerage services.
  • HealthEquity, a leading provider of HSAs, to offer a service integrating participant health and wealth planning for retirement across platforms.
  • Ascensus to offer bundled 401(k) plan services for small companies.

Vanguard has worked this way since its founding in 1975, when our entire fund line-up comprised 11 active funds managed by external advisors. As a result, we have more than 45 years of experience to draw on when looking for world-class providers who can add value to our recordkeeping service.

The benefits of an open ecosystem

Building our systems to integrate with our chosen third parties also means we're building an open ecosystem. Why is this important? If a plan sponsor has a preferred vendor, we will soon be able to integrate that vendor with our service.

For example, Vanguard's advice and retirement guidance capabilities draw data from HealthEquity to provide nudges, reminding participants to save in their HSAs. We also include HSA balances in retirement projections. But if you have your own HSA vendor, our open ecosystem technology will enable the same integration.

Many companies take a different tack. They have a closed ecosystem, meaning you must use their vendor. That raises some questions: What do you do if you already have a vendor as part of your benefits package? How well will their systems integrate?

Ours is a more flexible approach, driven by our mission—built into our DNA—to always do what's best for plan sponsors and their employees.

The Vanguard difference

Because our investors are our owners,* everything we do, including how we build our full-service retirement plan experience is focused on plan sponsor and participant needs.

Whether it's with us directly, or with the help of one of our third-party providers, we are focused on helping participants achieve retirement success. With that as our north star, our strategic focus is on removing the barriers to short and long-term financial health in a personalized, straightforward, and actionable way.

*Vanguard is investor owned. As an investor-owner, you own the funds that own Vanguard.


  • All investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest.
  • Advice services are provided by Vanguard Advisers, Inc., a registered investment advisor, or by Vanguard National Trust Company, a federally chartered, limited-purpose trust company.