The Vanguard Group of Malvern, Pa. has begun offering investors the ability to open new accounts online in a paperless transaction that collects investors' consent through electronic signatures, the company has announced.

The new service will allow investors to transfer money electronically from their bank accounts to a Vanguard account as well as roll over funds from an employee-sponsored retirement plan into a Vanguard direct rollover IRA or Roth IRA account, the company said.

Vanguard has launched the service in anticipation of the upcoming tax season. It believes the convenience of online transactions will appeal to investors who want to establish an IRA account before the April 16 tax deadline.

Last October, Congress approved legislation making electronic signatures a legal binding contract. Shortly thereafter, Vanguard provided the service to its brokerage service clients and has now expanded the service to the rest of its clients, according to the company.

"Since Vanguard introduced e-signatures to our existing clients last October, we have received an enthusiastic response from those clients who chose to use the e-signature technology," said Tim Buckley, principal of the company's web services group, in a statement. "Our clients praised the e-signature alternative for its ease of use and Vanguard's initiative to offer this technology so quickly after the legislation had become effective."

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