Vestwell adds two female fintech leaders to its board

Riskalyze chairman Lori Hardwick, Goldman exec Rana Yared joining the retirement fintech's board of directors

Jul 2, 2019 @ 2:57 pm

By Ryan W. Neal

Lori Hardwick, one of the original partners of Envestnet and former BNY Mellon Pershing chief operating officer, is joining the board of directors of another advisor technology firm, digital retirement adviser Vestwell.

Vestwell announced Tuesday that Ms. Hardwick and Rana Yared, a partner and managing director at Goldman Sachs, would join its board of directors following a recent $30 million Series B funding round led by Goldman.

(More: Vestwell and BNY Mellon partner on 401(k) plans, auto-IRAs)

Ms. Hardwick also was recently named chairman of Riskalyze's board. The two companies already partner, with Vestwell's technology powering a digital 401(k) built around the Riskalyze's digital questionnaire and Risk Number.

Vestwell co-founder and CEO Aaron Schumm said there would be no conflicts of interest with Ms. Hardwick's position at both companies, nor with her role as CEO of wealth tech at Red Rock Strategic Partners.

"I've known Lori for a long time, going back to the Envestnet days," Mr. Schumm said, adding that Ms. Hardwick has been on Vestwell's advisory board since the early days of the company. "This is someone I know, trust and value … She's one of the most well-rounded individuals you'll ever come across in the financial technology space."

Ms. Hardwick's role should not be interpreted as deepening the partnership between Riskalyze and Vestwell, or as a step towards a possible acquisition, Mr. Schumm said.

"There hasn't been any talk of that," he said. "There is a lot of business we are both trying to bite off and chew on right now."

Riskalyze CEO Aaron Klein confirmed Ms. Hardwick asked him about the appointment to Vestwell's board and he agreed it would not pose a conflict with her role at Riskalyze.

"We consider Vestwell to be a great partner, but we have never discussed, nor are we contemplating, any kind of merger, acquisition or other strategic transaction at this time," Mr. Klein said in an emailed statement.

Ms. Hardwick was unavailable for comment.

(More: Wall Street is going RIA-ish)

Ms. Yared is a leader at Goldman Sach' principal strategic investments team, a fintech investment arm leading the commercialization of the bank's technologies.

"I was drawn to Vestwell because it has developed a modern and intuitive interface that empowers advisers to more efficiently manage customized retirement plans," Ms. Yared said in a statement. "I'm looking forward to working alongside the team to continue reimagining retirement through technology."

Her team is reportedly an increasingly important venture within Goldman, not just for producing 25% annual returns in each of the seven years, but for finding technology that helps Goldman adopt digital technology and push the firm into new businesses.

Goldman Sachs' investment in Vestwell and the appointment of Ms. Yared fits with some of the bank's other recent moves. Goldman Sachs acquired RIA network and technology platform United Capital in May for $750 million, expanding its presence among high net worth investors. The bank is reaching mass-affluent consumers with its Marcus product and even mass-markets via a partnership with Apple.

(More: Advice industry leaders focused on improving the digital client experience)

Partnering with Vestwell, which helps financial advisers create, sell and manage defined contribution retirement plans, could give the bank a greater foothold in the retirement space.

Goldman declined to offer additional comment.

Mr. Schumm wouldn't comment on Goldman's strategy other than to say the bank demonstrated for him a great deal of interest in the retirement market.

"All I can really say is there has been a lot of thought capital employed on the Goldman side to the retirement space," Mr. Schumm said.

While the focus now is purely strategic and using capital to further develop the Vestwell product, Mr. Schumm said the possibility of a commercial product is "not off the table."

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