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Blooom: Fighting Fraud in the World of the 401(k)

If the idea of a hacker getting access to your bank account is scary, imagine learning that a cybercriminal has hacked into your 401(k).

That’s the kind of anxiety independent robo advisor blooom is guarding against with the introduction of its new Suspicious Activity Alerts feature. The technology continuously monitors user’s 401(k), 403(b), and similar employer-sponsored retirements accounts for withdrawals or loans. If suspicious activity is detected, the solution sends the customer an alert by text message.

“The 401(k) is often a person’s single largest financial asset,” blooom CEO and co-founder Chris Costello said. “bloom is committed to safeguarding your right to retire. Whether it’s exposing and minimizing hidden investment fees or identifying suspicious activity, blooom serves one person: the individual.”

Founded in 2013, blooom demonstrated its robo advisory platform at FinovateFall 2014. Geared specifically for the employer-sponsored retirement market, Blooom provides free 401(k) analysis and charges a flat fee of $10 a month for basic 401(k) management and monitoring – including the Suspicious Activity Alerts feature. Additional 401(k)s can be added for $7.50 per month. Blooom automatically rebalances and adjusts the investment allocation based on the user’s general investment preferences (i.e., stock vs. bond mix) and goals (i.e., time-until-retirement). The company also offers access to human financial professionals to provide planning advice beyond the 401(k).

Blooom’s approach seems to be working. The company announced last fall that it surpassed the $1 billion assets under management milestone, doing so faster than any other independent robo advisor including both Betterment and Wealthfront. In a blog post discussing the milestone, Costello pointed to the application of readily available technology to the often-overlooked world of employer-sponsored retirement accounts as key to blooom’s growth and success.

“There has been ‘off-the-shelf’ technology that has existed for upwards of 10 years that can automate things like the construction of a portfolio allocation, rebalancing a portfolio, and even tax-loss harvesting,” Costello wrote. “But nothing existed to perform this kind of automation when it comes to the 401(k) space – where accounts are spread out over dozens and dozens of different financial institutions. Until now.”

With more than $13 million in total funding, blooom includes QED Investors, Industry Ventures, Commerce Ventures, Allianz Life Insurance, TTV Capital, and Nationwide Insurance among its investors. The company is based in Overland Park, Kansas.