Betterment is fighting wars on so many fronts with this 401(k) offering that you almost need a military map. Sure, this announcement signals a move by the robo to graze a green pasture that its chief rival, Wealthfront, has thus far eschewed.
The bid also answers a more metaphysical what-now-brown-cow question about what Big Thing Betterment can do beyond fairly basic investment management for consumers — with a parallel bid for that market through RIAs. This 401(k) effort will shut up analysts (and journalists) following robos — for a while at least. But if Betterment succeeds in this subventure, it will do less to subvert its robo-advisory competitors than a world of much better known players in the 401(k) business.