Future of Investing

Behind Betterment’s partnership with Zenefits to give SMBs access to retirement planning

  • Betterment’s technology led 401(k) provider teamed up with HR software company Zenefits.
  • Zenefits SMB customers will gain access to Betterment’s retirement planning and financial wellness offerings.

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Behind Betterment’s partnership with Zenefits to give SMBs access to retirement planning

Last month Betterment’s retirement planning service Betterment 401(k) launched its partnership with HR and payroll firm Zenefits. Under the collaboration, Zenefit’s SMB customers have been given access to Betterment’s retirement plan in addition to a number of employee financial wellness products. 

The offering is available through Zenefit’s marketplace. Betterment will provide Zenefits customers with personalized financial advice, managed accounts and goals-based investing portfolios including socially responsible options. 

“Small businesses and startups make up the backbone of America, and have been faced with countless challenges during the ongoing pandemic,” said Kristen Carlisle, general manager of Betterment 401(k). “We firmly believe that supporting the financial well-being of their employees is vital to help them continue to grow and flourish, and want to make great benefits packages attainable and affordable for everyone.”

When the pandemic first hit, many SMBs had to work tirelessly just to keep the lights on. According to Matthew Eickman, the national retirement practice leader at Qualified Plan Advisors, SMBs that committed to their savings and investment strategies not only managed to stay afloat but also observed significant growth in their retirement accounts. 

“This highlights that SMBs can best serve their employees by ensuring they have a plan in place before the next challenging time hits. We’re hopeful it won’t be another once-in-a-century pandemic, but challenges will indeed arise again,” said Eickman. 


J.P. Morgan’s small business retirement research indicates that more than one-third of small business owners who do not currently offer a 401(k) plan expect to introduce one in coming months. 

“At Betterment 401(k), we’ve noticed increased interest from SMBs in supporting the financial wellbeing of their employees, understanding the critical role employers play in helping people gain access to savings vehicles like a 401(k),” said Carlisle. “Despite the financial turmoil of the past year, I’ve seen more employers than ever looking to sign up for 401(k) plans, just showing that employee financial wellness is truly a big priority.”

Eickman recommends small business owners to focus on well rounded retirement plans that effectively serve their employees. “Make it meaningful. Don’t offer a plan just to check a box. Offer a plan that is designed to offer loyal employees a path toward a dignified retirement,” said Eickman. 

Aside from its 401(k) plan, Betterment aims to tackle SMB retirement planning through additional benefits such as access to its no-fee checking and high-yield cash accounts. Zenefits customers will also be offered additional retirement accounts, like IRAs, through Betterment’s investment advisor.

“Small and mid-sized businesses have been historically underserved by the retirement industry, but companies like Betterment break the mold to make sure they have high-quality, affordable options available,” said Andrea Shannon, vice president of business development at Zenefits. “We’re excited to give our customers access to not only their 401(k), but the full Betterment platform.”

Last week Betterment 401(k) announced an additional partnership with employee benefits platform Bennie. Similar to its Zenefits partnership, Bennie members will gain access to Betterment’s 401(k)  in addition to the platform’s financial management services.

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