BOSTON - Scudder Defined Contribution Services is developing an interactive employee education tool for use by enrollment meeting trainers. The computer-based presentation program combines video, sound, animation, text, illustration and photographs in a retirement planning seminar that can be customized to reflect the specific features of an employer's plan.
The program's theme is that of a retirement party, designed to draw employees' interest through the use of a cast of characters representing "typical" employees. Each character can be used within a case study format by the trainer.
For example, if the meeting audience is mostly young, single and male, the trainer can customize the program by focusing throughout the meeting on a single male character who presents typical arguments against retirement. The program has the feel of television, but can provide a more targeted message because the format is not pre-set.
The meeting trainer has access to "nested" retirement information within the Windows-based program, enabling him or her to provide increasingly detailed information based on employee questions. The sophistication and interest levels of segments of the employee base can be easily accommodated by the trainer.
Scudder is working with a prototype program now and is adding features and improvements in consultation with its clients, said Michelle Corkery, educational product development manager.
Product testing will take place within selected client locations in September, with full availability to all clients scheduled for later in the fall. Further modules are planned, probably including a more advanced asset allocation program, said Ms. Corkery.
DENVER - INVESCO Funds Group is readying E-Z-K Plus for a September roll-out. The new bundled program is designed for small plans with less than 250 employees and $5 million in assets, and will offer 10 diversified INVESCO funds, daily valued record keeping, enrollment, administration, a voice-response system and employee education.
The advantage to E-Z-K is price, said Toby Cromwell, assistant vice president of institutional marketing. The basic prototype package is easy to install, is simple to administer and costs $1,000 for basic installation, plus $1,000 per year and $15 per participant.
INVESCO outsourced record keeping to Dun & Bradstreet Pension Services Inc., Tampa, said Mr. Cromwell, because profit margins were small for the small plan market. "Outsourcing to Dun & Bradstreet, which specializes in administering small plans, makes a lot of sense for us. It leaves us free to concentrate on what we do best - investment management," Mr. Cromwell said.
INVESCO has been testing the system now with about 400 existing small plan clients.
PURCHASE, N.Y. - Diversified Investment Advisors is adding a self-directed brokerage account to investment options available to its 401(k), 403(b), 457 and other retirement plan clients.
Diversified will offer the Personal Choice Retirement Account from Charles Schwab & Co. Inc., San Francisco. The self-directed account will give participants access to an array of brokerage services beyond traditional core investing in defined contribution plans, well as to more than 800 mutual funds available through Schwab's services.
NEWPORT BEACH, CALIF. - PIMCO Advisors Institutional Services introduced a full-service bundled program for defined contribution sponsors with between 500 and 5,000 participants and at least $300 million in plan assets.
The PersonalStrategies program offers daily valued record keeping and administration and investment management through 18 diversified, institutional mutual funds managed by PIMCO and its subsidiaries. Five lifecycle portfolios, called PersonalStrategies, also are available and are constructed from the 18 underlying mutual funds, according to varying risk-reward parameters. Funds from outside managers also can be used within the program at a client's discretion.
The bundled program is supported by a full employee educational program and a toll-free, voice-response system.
HARTFORD, CONN. - Aetna Investment Services added 12 funds from outside managers to its bundled service for defined contribution plans.
New funds, with an emphasis on global and international, are now available from Franklin/Templeton Group, San Mateo, Calif.; Janus Capital, Denver; Twentieth Century Mutual Funds, Kansas City, Mo.; and Fidelity Investments Institutional Services Co., Boston.
From the Franklin/Templeton family, Aetna added the Templeton Income, Growth, Smaller Companies Growth and the Foreign funds. Janus Capital's Worldwide, Flexible Income and Janus funds were added. The Fidelity Advisor Global Resources, Overseas, Equity-Income and Growth Opportunities funds are now available. Twentieth Century's Equity fund is the final fund addition.
The new funds bring Aetna's mutual fund offerings to 32.