MINNEAPOLIS - IDS Institutional Retirement Services, Minneapolis, has reorganized its employee education and communications department as a full-service advertising agency to provide 401(k) plan clients with targeted communications using consumer marketing tactics.
The new program analyzes a company's employee base, using consumer market research methods, segmenting the participants into categories to determine exactly which communication strategies will be most effective.
In addition to accessing individual employee information taken from plan sponsor and record-keeping data, IDS also will cross-reference its findings with ACORN, a consumer targeting system from CACI Marketing Systems, Alexandria, Va. ACORN's system, which provides detailed profiles of consumer behavior, is based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, consumer surveys and other databases.
The same approach will be applied to retirement plan and savings behavior to profile and define a company's employee base.
Communication and education campaigns will use a variety of media, targeted to reach every employee category. For example, materials pitched at the company's group of older, more sophisticated investors who already are participating in the retirement plan will emphasize asset diversification. Enticement pieces, aimed at encouraging employees to enroll in the plan for the first time, will avoid more complicated investment theory and focus on the benefits of plan participation.
Clients already using the communications service include Hershey Foods Corp., Carlson Cos. Inc., Liz Claiborne Inc. and the Pillsbury Co.
John Palombo has been hired as a senior vice president and will head the new unit. Mr. Palombo has been an advertising executive for more than 25 years, most recently as a principal in his own firm, Grant & Palombo, Minneapolis. Margaret Tobin also has been hired as a vice president of operations and training in the new unit. She previously was director of reward systems marketing with Business Incentives.
ST. PAUL, Minn. - MSI Insurance Co., St. Paul, created a subsidiary to provide bundled 401(k) plan services to small and midsized companies using a combination of MSI investment vehicles and other vendors' mutual funds and pooled GIC vehicles.
Prior to the establishment of the subsidiary, called Pension Solutions Inc., MSI limited its 900 small plan clients to its own investment options.
MSI Insurance also added two separate account investments to its lineup for defined contribution plans. MSI's International Equity Separate Account E will invest in Scudder, Stevens and Clark's international fund. The new Stable Income Account H invests in a pool of guaranteed investment contracts, bank investment contracts and synthetics. MSI's own product offerings include five other separate accounts, which invest in shares of externally managed mutual funds.
Other related changes at MSI include broadening its trust administration services from its subsidiary, Mutual Service Cooperative, to include outside clients. Previously, administrative services were offered only to other MSI subsidiaries.
HARTFORD, Conn. - CIGNA Retirement and Investment Services, Hartford, introduced a family of five balanced funds for use by 401(k) plans. The Lifetime 20/30/40-50-60 funds are designed to match an investor's age and the years remaining until retirement with a diversified mix of domestic and international equity and bond commingled separate accounts.
CIGNA directs asset allocation for each Lifetime fund. Investment components are managed internally and by external managers such as Fidelity Investments, INVESCO Funds Group and Warburg, Pincus Funds. Rick Goulart, a spokesman for CIGNA, said more external managers will be added to the roster in future.
Supporting the new fund family is an employee investment education program, including personal counseling from customer service representatives who are accessed via CIGNA's toll-free, voice-response system.
Separately, CIGNA also rolled out a consultant-by-phone service for 401(k) plan participants. 401(k) specialists will advise plan participants who call CIGNA's AnswerLine voice-response system with questions about plan operations, investment strategy and plan regulations. More than 120 languages and hearing-impaired services are available.
NEW YORK - Regis Retirement Plan Services, New York, hired Acumen Financial, Cambridge, Mass., to develop customized financial education and planning programs for use by plan participants. Regis, the defined contribution plan service arm of United Asset Management Corp., Boston, will provide plan participants with a personalized financial planning guide using Acumen's advanced software systems.
Participant data from a company's record keeper will be downloaded to Acumen, which will construct between three and five suggested asset allocations based on analysis of an individual's circumstances and the plan's investment options.
The 401(k) guide is scheduled for release later this summer. Planning materials may be customized according to plan sponsors' requirements.