NEW YORK - Two companies specializing in defined contribution plan record keeping and systems technology have expanded their capabilities.
Cascade Technologies Inc. is near completion of its next generation of defined contribution plan software, Total Service Recordkeeping.
The new system is transaction-based, combined with integrated voice response and call center technology with daily or periodic plan valuations. The system is expected to be operational by mid-1995, said Colleen Lew, a company spokeswoman.
Cascade provides back-office technology for mutual fund managers, consultants, banks, insurance companies and third-party administrators.
Also, Thomas A. Loch joined Cascade as vice president of client services, focusing on client service support. Mr. Loch will be responsible for the introduction and implementation of the Total Service Recordkeeping system as well as for new product development. Elizabeth Seiter, who formerly was in charge of client services at Cascade will be working on a part-time basis, said Ms. Lew.
Mr. Loch previously was vice president of business operations for Preferred Benefits Corp., Fort Washington, Pa. Preferred Benefits, in turn, has been increasing its computer systems staff in the past year, adding seven programmers and three systems analysts dedicated to 401(k) record-keeping systems. The new staff will take over Mr. Loch's duties, said Jack Lowry, a spokesman for the company. The new staff additions are in response to increased client demand, a result of Preferred Benefit's role as the record keeper for the 401(k) plan program offered by Merrill Lynch & Co..
BALTIMORE - T. Rowe Price Associates Inc. commissioned Access Research, Windsor, Conn., to produce a quantitative survey, examining defined contribution plan participant investment behavior, said Douglas Kramer, a T. Rowe Price spokesman.
The survey results will be used to better tailor participant investment education and communications materials, especially as they relate to asset allocation of retirement plan assets. Mr. Kramer said the study will try to determine what types of funds participants are most likely to select, what information sources they probably will turn to for help, and what factors most influence investing.
"We are aiming to move the educational programs we provide to sponsor clients away from a reliance on print media and group meetings. We are especially convinced of the power of video and interactive software to encourage better savings rates and appropriate investment allocations. The survey results will be used to design the most effective communication methods," said Mr. Kramer.
BOSTON - Scudder, Stevens & Clark Inc. has published a new, free booklet designed to help participants make decisions about lump-sum distributions from their retirement plans.
The 12-page educational guide, "Leaving Your Job? - Keep Your Retirement Plan Money Working for You," answers questions regarding investment of lump-sum distributions and encourages employees leaving their jobs to roll over retirement plan assets into their new company's plan or to invest in individual retirement accounts. The booklet provides nine different asset allocation models for reinvestment of plan assets, targeted to varying age and risk parameters.
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Acumen Financial has focused its software development efforts on a report-generating program designed to educate employees about options for distribution of defined contribution plan assets when they leave a job.
Acumen's Assurance program compares the tax consequences of a lump-sum distribution vs. a rollover into an IRA. The system draws participant information from the plan sponsor's record-keeping system to produce an individualized participant report.
The report also suggests investment allocations for rollovers into IRAs and provides assistance with retirement income projection and planning.
Acumen plans to market Assurance initially to 401(k) plan money managers as a tool to help retain the accounts of terminated employees, who otherwise would move lump-sum distributions to other managers.
CINCINNATI - Another vendor-targeted educational package brochure has been introduced by The National Underwriter Co.
The Retirement Savings Planner is designed for financial planners, mutual fund representatives, brokers and insurance companies to use as a retirement planning tool with individual plan participants. The brochure also can be distributed in quantity by financial institutions to defined contribution plan sponsors.
Two slide cards show what savings levels are needed throughout a work career to fund a 25-year and a 40-year retirement period. An instructional booklet helps participants determine how much they will need at retirement and how to accumulate the necessary funds, using what-if examples to factor in elements such as investment returns, inflation and other savings needs.
BOSTON - First Data Corp., owner of The Shareholder Services Group Inc., has signed a letter of intent to purchase the 440 Financial Group of Worcester Inc., an affiliate within the Allmerica Financial group of companies based in Worcester, Mass.
The 440 Financial Group provides administrative, distribution, fund accounting and shareholder services for banks and other mutual fund providers. TSSG provides a range of mutual fund services, including 401(k) participant record keeping, fund accounting and administration and fulfillment services.
Barbara Baumgarten, a spokeswoman for TSSG, said the purchase will strengthen the company's presence in bank mutual fund distribution channels, an area of projected growth in the industry.
HARTFORD, Conn. - Aetna Life Insurance and Annuity Co. has restructured the marketing of its defined contribution services into sales teams geared to specific market segments rather than product-based teams.
The new teams will sell both bundled and investment-only products to plans nationwide. The new structure will allow a single sales team to sell a range of products to sponsors, said Edward Lavelle, senior vice president of sales and marketing for ALIAC Pensions.
PITTSBURGH - Retirement Plan Service Co. of America has changed its name to Federated Retirement Plan Services. The change is part of an effort to identify more with its parent company, Federated Investors, a spokeswoman for the firm said.
EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. - The Copeland Cos. opened its 30th U.S. Regional Service Center in Cleveland, its second Ohio office. Copeland provides record keeping and administrative services to more than 85,000 public employees enrolled in the Ohio Deferred Compensation plan statewide and to more than 50 hospitals and school districts in the Cleveland area.
Marlene Givant Star and Mercedes M. Cardona contributed to this column.