Welcome to Ubiquity Retirement + SavingsTM
Q+A with Ubiquity Founder + CEO, Chad ParksRead More
Q: What was your inspiration for starting The Online 401(k)?
A: I founded The Online 401(k) back in 1999 after identifying Americans' inability to save at work, and if ignored, the long-term negative consequences to our Nation's economic health.
At that point, the big institutions couldn't figure out how to make money on our nation's backbone, the small business. That's because the small business has little to no assets in their retirement savings—and that's how these institutions historically make their money—on a percentage of those assets. Those that had successfully hooked the small business did so with excessively high, hidden fees. Painful, but true.
I looked at the advent of the Internet as the great equalizer and a cost effective and efficient way to disseminate information. The web was the exact platform needed to reach the masses and scale, potentially quashing (or at least making a dent) in the looming retirement crisis. The problem is, this industry banks on keeping you in the dark—like in the Wizard of Oz and the little green man behind the curtain. The more complex they can make it, the more they can justify the egregious amounts of money they are charging you, and for doing very little. We basically had to reinvent the wheel. And with irreverence in our DNA, and the principles we were founded on, we did just that.
Q: How did The Online 401(k)'s name come about?
A: In true bootstrap, start-up fashion, I was working on this project—and I didn't know what to call it. I had a meeting with a partner the following morning. I sat down in front of my browser, and performed a search. "401k.com" was taken. "Online401k.com" was also taken. "theonline401k.com" was available! And in less than three minutes, The Online 401(k) was born. Of course, there is more to a brand than the name. But that's where the brand you see today got its roots.
Back then, being online was still advanced, especially to our paper-pushing industry (all things in triplicate). To be an online 401(k) plan provider was unique. At the time it made sense and spoke to the unique value we delivered. As we continued to evolve and innovate over the years however, The Online 401(k) as a name became antiquated. Of course we are online, isn't everybody? Today we offer more than just 401(k)s. And we don't want to limit ourselves to only retirement, either. Our DNA has evolved to be profits with a purpose—without limits.
Q: How did you come up with the new name Ubiquity?
A: We haven't been a start-up in a long time. And the decision to rebrand was not taken lightly—in fact, it was an emotional decision for me who gave birth to this company, three-minute name and all. I knew we needed a change, but I also knew that making the decision in a vacuum was not right. The Online 401(k) as a brand was not only us—it was our clients, savers, partners, and how the world knew us.
That being said, a brand and what makes your experience unique must be achieved holistically. A name, your name is really the boiled down essence of what makes you, well, you. So what makes us, us? We joked internally that all roads lead to The Online 401(k).
Through channels including partners, direct, social, and more, our customers have come to us through multiple doors. So, how do we embody that?
We had our own ideas. But we also realized we needed to test it. So we brought it to a larger audience, and had people from across the nation provide us with guidance on what they are looking for in a relationship with their financial institution. At the end of it all, even in this app-driven world, every generation told us they still wanted a classic experience when it came to their money.
With greater research, we came up with a list of names, and at literally the last moment before testing, Ubiquity popped into my head. So, we added it to the list. In the end (or our new beginning), the people chose our brand. And their choice was Ubiquity.
Q: What does Ubiquity mean to you?
A: Well, the definition of Ubiquity is the state of being everywhere, all the time. In a sense, that is what we are looking to achieve—to take care of the you that you don't think about, everywhere, and all the time. And just like all roads led to The Online 401(k), we want to be ubiquitous. Ubiquity to me, equates to freedom (with a higher purpose) that we didn't have previously, and to a vision that we are perpetuating today.
No guardrails. No limits. Being everywhere and doing everything right by the customer as we've done since day one.
Q: What do no guardrails or limits deliver?
A: We are already experiencing the catalyst of change—before the brand has even launched. We've learned over the years that our highest purpose has been, again, helping people overcome fear of saving for their retirement. Perhaps that is morphing to be just, helping people overcome fear.
I realized that we weren't limited to an org chart, or standard of processes that others are held to. True limitlessness means just that. Which led me to independently produce a feature-length documentary about the looming retirement crisis in America, called Broken Eggs. I created a separate, non-commercial business, because we knew that we would receive scrutinizing eyes. Well, we did, and we turned around and… Gave the documentary away for free to everyone. We tied the film to the passion of our higher purpose. Everywhere. All the time. Ubiquity.
Q: What's next?
A: We aren't here to slap lipstick on a pig. We are here to continue to transform how you think about retirement and savings. We're constantly reinvesting in our technology and people. We are also going to provide more benefits that take care of all of you, everywhere, all the time
We are a do-acracy
We have a higher purpose, not a hierarchy. We’re in a constant state of (r)evolution. Do epic sh**.
Find your inner hero.
Have the courage to take the first step. Leap and the cape will appear.
Be a spork
Have the utility of the whole silverware drawer. Act with clever curiosity. Know when to strike and when to scoop.
Inspire happiness with contagious enthusiasm. Own your joy and lend it out.
We celebrate curious, abstract thinkers.
We are an ever-evolving, passionate, and diverse family from all walks of life. Even though we’re made in San Francisco, our people come from all over the globe.
We are always looking for vibrant people to join our tribe.
We have a powerful vision and unbelievable momentum. We work hard and fast and with a purpose. We live our values both in and out of our offices. That’s the Ubiquity way.
WSJ Podcast: Listen to our VP of People + Culture, Carrie Brandes on what she looks for in a candidate for Ubiquity.
Do you know someone who needs a retirement plan? Refer a friend or business today, and we’ll give you $200 when they sign up.