Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley Wealth Management and Ascensus Collaborate to Create ClearFit, A New, Turnkey Retirement Program Specially-Designed for the Small 401(k) Plan Marketplace

Mar 8, 2017

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Morgan Stanley Wealth Management today announced that it has teamed with Ascensus to develop ClearFit, a leading-edge retirement program created exclusively for America’s fastest growing segment of the retirement plan market.  This innovative approach delivers Morgan Stanley’s institutional investment expertise and willingness to accept the fiduciary responsibility as a 3(38) discretionary manager to plans of smaller sizes. 

ClearFit combines the best of both firms: the comprehensive fiduciary services and investment management process of Morgan Stanley with the leading-edge administrative and recordkeeping services of Ascensus, the nation’s largest independent retirement and college savings services provider. 

“Business owners today have a lot on their plate beyond managing and growing their businesses,” explains Marc Brookman, Managing Director at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management.  “They recognize the importance of offering a competitive retirement program to attract and retain top talent, but generally do not have the time or resources to administer the complexities of most plans.  We take the burden off their shoulders and onto ours, so they can remain focused on building their businesses, while giving their employees a clear and convenient way to plan or prepare for retirement.”   

“ClearFit is a smart, contemporary solution for business owners who want to deliver a retirement program to their employees that helps them effectively plan for the future,” according to Kathleen Connelly, Executive Vice President of Client Experience and Relationship Management at Ascensus.  “Partnering with Morgan Stanley, we have developed a simple approach for employers to meet their fiduciary responsibilities, while contributing towards the financial well-being of their employees.  Our turnkey platform takes the complexity out of plan administration, so they can spend more time focusing on growth strategies for their businesses.” 

Morgan Stanley: Fiduciary Services + World-Class Investment Services 

With ClearFit, Morgan Stanley serves as the ERISA Section 3(38) investment manager, assuming the responsibility for selecting the plan’s investments which includes oversight and monitoring of the retirement plan’s fund lineup.  Also integral to the new platform is an investment menu that uses a multi-manager approach and non-proprietary funds.  ClearFit employs target date models that are based upon Morgan Stanley’s proprietary retirement glidepaths.  These models are used to provide employees with an easy way to select investments aligned with their goals and timeframe for retirement. 

Ascensus: High-Tech + High Touch Service 

Ascensus leverages its expertise to deliver a high-tech, high-touch experience to help plans remain compliant, offering advanced administrative services that include: 

  • Integrated payroll processing with streamlined data delivery options

  • Retirement account withdrawal, loan and distribution approvals managed by Ascensus

  • Delivery of certain required notices directly to participants’ homes

  • Digital and mobile solutions to help boost employee participation 

The result is a retirement platform that is designed for ease, saving business owners both time and energy. 

About Morgan Stanley 

Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, a global leader, provides access to a wide range of products and services to individuals, businesses and institutions, including brokerage and investment advisory services, financial and wealth planning, cash management and lending products and services, annuities and insurance, retirement and trust services. 

Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) is a leading global financial services firm providing investment banking, securities, wealth management and investment management services.  With offices in more than 42 countries, the Firm's employees serve clients worldwide including corporations, governments, institutions and individuals.  For more information about Morgan Stanley, please visit  

About Ascensus 

Ascensus is the largest independent retirement and college savings services provider in the United States, helping over 7 million Americans save for the future.  With more than 35 years of experience, the firm partners with financial institutions to offer tailored solutions that meet the needs of financial professionals, employers, and individuals. Ascensus specializes in recordkeeping, administrative, and program management services, supporting over 47,000 retirement plans and over 3.9 million 529 college savings accounts.  It also administers more than 1.5 million IRAs and health savings accounts and is home to one of the largest ERISA consulting teams in the country.  For more information about Ascensus, visit 

Investments in target-date models are subject to the risks associated with their underlying funds. The year in the model name refers to the approximate year (the target date) when an investor in the model would retire and leave the workforce. The model will gradually shift its emphasis from more aggressive investments to more conservative ones based on its target date. An investment in a target date model is not guaranteed at any time, including or after the target date. These models are based on an estimated retirement age of approximately 65. Should you choose to retire significantly earlier or later, you may want to consider a fund with an asset allocation more appropriate to your particular situation. 

An investor should consider the investment objectives, risks, and charges and expenses of the collective investment trusts carefully before investing.  This and other important information about the trusts is available from your Financial Advisor or Private Wealth Advisor.  This information should be read carefully before investing.

Morgan Stanley Media Contact:
Christy Jockle
Executive Director
Corporate Communications

Ascensus Media Contact:
Roberta Hess
Vice President
Marketing & Communications

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CRC 1726274 3/2017