As the second largest retirement plan provider in the United States, Empower Retirement knows a thing or two about retirement investing. As cryptocurrencies become a mainstream asset class, more and more investors are looking to invest in digital assets within their retirement accounts. With its recent string of acquisitions, Empower could be positioned to provide its client base with cryptocurrency retirement investment options in the near future.
A brief history of Empower Retirement
The firm got its start in 1891 as a Canadian insurance provider. Fifteen years later, Empower opened its first office in the U.S. and quickly expanded throughout the Midwest region. By 1940, Empower was in the retirement savings business, offering employers tax-advantaged retirement plans and then expanding its offerings to nonprofit organizations.
In 1979 the company gained enough traction in the United States that it split from the original firm in Canada and set up new headquarters in Denver, Colorado. Over the decades that followed, Empower acquired financial firms that expanded its offerings and attracted an extensive and notable client list along the way. Since 2000, Empower Retirement has won several awards that demonstrate its reputation in the retirement industry.
- 2016 – Retirement leader of the year at the 23rd Annual Mutual Fund Industry Awards
- 2018 – One of the Top 100 Innovators in Diversity & Inclusion by Mogul
- 2019 – Best Company to Work for in Colorado by career website Zippia
- 2020 – Retirement Leader of the Year in the annual Mutual Fund Industry Awards
Today, Empower Retirement has grown to the second largest retirement plan provider in the U.S., with over 12 million participants and a full range of retirement products and services. All told, the company has administered more than $667 billion in assets.
Notable acquisitions open the door for crypto
Empower expanded its reach and presence throughout the U.S.via strategic acquisitions. In other words, Empower buys other companies to expand their own list of services and customers. While these recent acquisitions have grown the company’s traditional product offerings, they have also hinted at Empower’s interest in the cryptocurrency market. All of the firm’s recent acquisitions are either directly involved in cryptocurrencies or have a positive stance on digital assets.
|Acquisition||Date Acquired||Amount||Cryptocurrency News|
|MassMutual Retirement Plan Business||September 2020||$2.35 billion + $1 billion of required capital|
|Personal Capital||June 2020||$825 millIon|
|Fifth Third Retirement Plan Business||September 2020||Undisclosed|
Is Empower Retirement moving closer to Bitcoin?
Empower Retirement has provided its customers with retirement plans and services for decades, so it would only make sense that the company would offer digital assets. While Empower hasn’t been public about its stance regarding cryptocurrencies, recent acquisitions of MassMutual, Personal Capital, and Fifth Third all point to Empower’s intentions toward cryptocurrencies. This could ultimately lead to over 12 million individuals gaining access to bitcoin and other crypto in their retirement plans.
The MassMutual acquisition could be Empower’s most direct line to bitcoin. MassMutual has not only made investments in a cryptocurrency-related venture, but bought bitcoin with its own money. (Note that Empower Retirement acquired MassMutual’s retirement plan business, and not its life insurance business.)
Fifth Third is also an acquisition to watch, because it is one of the few banks in the U.S. that enables customers to use any of the five major forms of mobile payments: Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, MasterPass, Android Pay, and Microsoft Wallet. While the bank does not yet allow its customers to use cryptocurrencies as a form of payment, it’s clearly moving further into the digital age and could start accepting cryptocurrencies as payment in the near future.
Can I buy bitcoin with my Empower Retirement account?
No, you cannot purchase bitcoin at this time. Unfortunately, Empower has not given guidance on a timeline for cryptocurrency availability.
How can Empower customers get exposure to bitcoin?
Empower Retirement clients can indirectly invest in bitcoin via over-the-counter traded assets with direct exposure to the cryptocurrency. This includes the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), or Microstrategy (MSTR), which holds bitcoin as its reserve asset. Note: this isn’t the same thing as directly owning bitcoin.
How does Empower’s recent acquisitions affect its stance on cryptocurrency?
As of today, Empower has not publicly commented on cryptocurrencies. However, the companies it has acquired do have a history of citing bitcoin as a viable investment.
Can I buy bitcoin for an IRA with Empower Retirement?
No. Unfortunately, Empower offers no way to purchase bitcoin directly in retirement accounts. Investors can, however, take an existing Empower Retirement IRA and move to a Bitcoin IRA. This will preserve the tax benefits of a retirement account and avoid any penalties.
While Empower Retirement doesn’t allow you to buy bitcoin for your retirement account, BitIRA does. With BitIRA, you can invest in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin directly in an IRA account, all with best-in-class security and customer service. Contact a BitIRA representative today to learn more.