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Robinhood offers 1% pension match as retail boom slows

Online brokerage Robinhood ( HOOD ) is rolling out retirement accounts for users of its mobile app, a move that comes as the retail frenzy that lifted the company’s fortunes last year fades.

Robinhood will offer customers a 1% match on their traditional or Roth IRAs, the company said Tuesday. Users can start investing on deposits of up to $1,000 before the contributions are deposited into their accounts.

The launch brings Robinhood closer to competing more directly with established brokerages such as Fidelity, Charles Schwab and Morgan Stanley’s E*TRADE, which have participated in the online retirement account market for years.

Robinhood offers 1% pension match as retail boom slows

Robinhood Markets, Inc. CEO and co-founder Vlad Tenev holds a t-shirt on Wall Street after the company’s IPO in New York City, U.S., July 29, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Prospective customers can apply to be on the Robinhood Retirement waiting list starting Tuesday and can expect access on a rolling basis in the coming weeks, but full availability of the offer is set to begin in January.

Robinhood benefited from a retail boom at the start of the COVID pandemic as shutdowns and stimulus checks drove flocks of individual investors to online trading. But as the economy reopened and monetary tightening by the Federal Reserve spurred a rout across stock markets this year, the popularity of the business faded.

In August, the platform announced it was cutting 23% of its workforce, a second round of layoffs after cutting 9% of full-time employees in April.

Active monthly users totaled 12.2 million in Q3, according to the company’s latest available quarterly report – a decrease of 1.8 million users from the previous quarter.

On Robinhood’s third-quarter earnings call, CEO Vlad Tenev said retirement accounts would be available to users “just in time for the New Year and the heart of IRA season.”

“I think you’re going to really like what the product is going to look like and the value to customers,” Tenev said on the call. “And we’re polishing it and making sure it looks good, but we feel good about rolling it out just in time for tax season.”

The company had promised to roll out retirement account options by mid-2022, executives said in earlier earnings calls.

Retirement accounts will provide access to stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), the company said.

“In terms of bonds and adding more instruments to Robinhood, we haven’t heard a lot of clients asking for those specifically,” Tenev said on the third-quarter call. “That said, we understand that with retirement and as we continue to add more tools for long-term investors who are diversifying, we may start to see more feedback on that.”

Shares of Robinhood were down about 48% year-to-date at Monday’s close.

Alexandra Semenova is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alexandraandnyc

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