We saw the need—and responded to it.

Recognizing that small businesses make up nearly 98% of U.S. companies—and that 95% of retirement plans manage total assets of less than $10 million1—we created Vanguard Retirement Plan AccessTM (VRPA) in 2011 to give underserved investors access to options for achieving financial well-being.

How VRPA became a part of the solution:
A three-part strategy


  • Service small businesses, ranging from start-ups to firms with up to $20 million in retirement assets.*

    * VRPA now services small businesses with up to $50 million in assets.

  • Partner with Ascensus, an award-winning recordkeeping firm specializing in small businesses, to provide the day-to-day administration of all VRPA plans.2

Teacher showing raise of hands.
Steve Holman

“VRPA often serves the financial planning needs of teachers, construction workers, medical professionals, and members of the arts community—among many others. These are people who don't always have access to quality retirement plan options. We believe financial well-being shouldn't be an exclusive right of those participating in plans of large companies.”

Steve Holman, Principal
Vanguard Retirement Plan Access


  • Deliver a low-cost, high-value product with special attention to fee simplicity and transparency.

  • Leverage Ascensus’s technological expertise to help us build on the strengths of both organizations.

“By freeing themselves from administrative responsibilities—and having access to low-cost investments and fee transparency—plan sponsors can better position their employees for positive financial outcomes. Over the years, it's always been a source of confidence to walk through a prospect’s door knowing you’re aligned to a powerhouse like Vanguard.”3

Brian Menickella, Managing Partner
Beacon Financial Services

Our cost advantage


Average asset-weighted expense ratios as of
December 31, 2020.

Sources: Vanguard and Morningstar, Inc.


  • Elevate the plan sponsor and participant experiences through technical innovation.

  • Produce thought leadership on plan design and participant education, as well as advisory best practices.

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1 Sources: U.S. Department of Labor, Private Pension Plan Bulletin Historical Tables and Graphs, January 2021; and Investment Company Institute, Quarterly Retirement Market Data, Fourth Quarter 2020, March 2021.

2 Source: "Ascensus Receives Top Honors from Retirement Plan Sponsors for Providing Best in Class Support," February 1, 2021 news release, Ascensus, 2021. The Best in Class award addresses providers in segments up to $50 million in assets from the 2020 PLANSPONSOR Defined Contribution Survey.

3 The experiences of this Vanguard client may not be representative of the experience of other Vanguard clients and are not a guarantee of future investment performance or success.

All investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest.

Retirement plan recordkeeping and administrative services are provided by The Vanguard Group, Inc. (VGI). VGI has entered into an agreement with Ascensus, LLC, to provide certain plan recordkeeping and administrative services on its behalf. Ascensus is not affiliated with Vanguard Marketing Corporation, The Vanguard Group, Inc., or any of its affiliates. Ascensus® is a registered trademark of Ascensus, LLC.