John Hancock picks robo for retirement accounts

NextCapital's digital platform to serve 401(k)s and rollovers for the firm

Jan 10, 2017 @ 12:01 am

By Liz Skinner

John Hancock Retirement Plan Services will integrate NextCapital's digital 401(k) platform and begin offering its automated retirement plans and IRA rollovers over the next 12 months.

NextCapital's robo-platform allows retirement plan participants to have portfolio tracking, planning, savings advice and portfolio management online. The financial advice will be automated, but live help will be available to service the accounts, said Peter Gordon, chief executive of John Hancock Retirement Plan Services, which is part of John Hancock Financial, a division of Manulife Financial Corp.

“Plan sponsors have been more and more interested in providing meaningful advice, and the technology has gotten better to do it,” he said.

Details on pricing for the automated accounts haven't been set yet, but it will be “nonconflicted and cost-effective,” Mr. Gordon said.

New Labor Department rules that take effect in three months require all retirement advice to be provided in the best interest of clients. Robo-advisers are expected to play a role in helping many firms provide retirement recommendations under these new rules.

(More: The most up to date information on the DOL fiduciary rule)

“Digital advice is strategically key for firms seeking to scalably implement the new DOL fiduciary rule requirements,” said Alois Pirker, research director at Aite Group.

John Hancock Retirement Plan Services, which has about $144 billion in assets under management, already offers plan sponsors some access to digital accounts through a partnership with Morningstar, Mr. Gordon said.

Companies will be able to choose between either provider for digital accounts, or neither, he said.

This deal is the first time a company is using NextCapital's technology to provide 401(k) and rollover accounts on the same platform, said Rob Foregger, co-founder of NextCapital.

NextCapital previously announced deals with State Street Global Advisors, Russell Investments and Transamerica.

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