Investment Product and Service Launches

Tickeron develops AI analysis for 401(k)s, IPX adds extra annuity products for distribution, and Vanguard closes Treasury Money Market Fund.

Tickeron Develops AI Analysis for 401(k)s

Tickeron, an artificial and human intelligence platform, has announced its 401(k) Report feature that provides plan sponsors, plan advisers and plan participants with artificial intelligence analysis unveiling deep insight into close to 26,000 U.S. company 401(k) plans.

Founded by Sergey Savastiouk, Tickeron is a subscription-based market intelligence platform giving access to the latest trading news and artificial intelligence (AI)-generated predictions. The 401(k) Report provides users with plan details, general statistics, plan menu, diversification analysis, fees and expenses, and fundamentals.

“We’re bringing unprecedented access and transparency to plan information and design. For example, the public forms required by the Department of Labor [DOL] provide a lot of information, but there is practically no standard for reporting tickers or names of funds included in plan menus. Our tool addresses the issue head-on by rating the plan administrator’s reporting quality,” Savastiouk says. “We also rate plans by issuing a Diversification Score (DivScore) that indicates how well the portfolio is diversified.”

The artificial intelligence details fundamentals for each security held in the 401(k) plan. This analysis gives the plan administrator and plan participants a sense of the company or funds’ revenue, manager tenure, price-earnings ratio (valuation), risk and other key metrics.

“Taking a closer look at the fundamentals of each security can help investors determine if any of the securities are potentially overvalued, too costly, falling short on dividend yields, too risky, too big or small, and so on,” Savastiouk continues. “We simplify this otherwise tedious process for all parties by analyzing each security in the plan and breaking down its fundamentals in an easy-to-understand format.”

IPX Adds Extra Annuity Products for Distribution

The Investment Provider Xchange (IPX), a solutions provider for retirement plan professionals, plan sponsors and participants in the 403(b) and 457(b) space, is making additional annuity products available for distribution.

“Because of the unique individual adviser-to-participant relationships in the governmental space, IPX maintains those relationships while also permitting self-directing individuals to make investment choices from a wide selection of low-cost institutional share classes,” says James Olson, managing director with IPX.

The December passage of the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act drove heightened interest in IPX from annuity product providers. The legislation mandates that participants’ accrued benefits must be expressed as a guaranteed lifetime income stream. IPX plans to make additional annuity products available throughout this year as it streamlines the process for advisers.

“Processing transactions with annuity product providers is complex,” notes Kevin Loffredi, IPX’s chief product officer. “Annuity transactions aren’t processed in the same way mutual funds are via common industry platforms, like DTCC’s Fund/SERV. Because IPX’s Annuity Processing Portal handles the interaction with annuity products, we can allow advisers to distribute annuity products and mutual funds from a single platform.”

IPX does not play an advisory role and is agnostic to the products selected for use on its platform. Olson comments, “We leave it to the product providers and their distributors to determine the appropriate mix of investments for any retirement plan or individual. IPX was built for distribution of whatever the product manufacturers design and the plans approve, and that includes annuities as well as mutual funds, ETFs [exchange-traded funds] and models.”

Vanguard Closes Treasury Money Market Fund

Vanguard closed its $39.5 billion Treasury Money Market Fund (VUSXX) to new shareholder accounts.

The company is seeking to protect existing fund shareholders from high levels of cash flow that could potentially accelerate reductions to the fund’s yield. Existing shareholders of the fund can continue to make purchases with no limits.

Vanguard says it believes that money market funds provide significant value to investors as a stable and convenient cash equivalent instrument. However, an increase in demand for high-quality government money market funds, combined with extremely low yields on U.S. Treasury securities, may have the effect of reducing the fund’s yield, as new cash flow is invested in lower-yielding securities.

Vanguard is taking this prudent step to temper cash flows and will continue to monitor the fund and employ additional measures if needed. The company says it has taken similar pre-emptive measures during prolonged low-interest rate environments.

Prospective investors will continue to have access to other portfolios in Vanguard’s lineup of money market funds, including Vanguard Prime Money Market Fund, Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund, and Vanguard’s national and state-specific tax-exempt money market funds.