WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - PRIMCO Capital Management, Barclays Global Investors and T. Rowe Price received the highest satisfaction ratings as 401(k) fund managers for plans with more than $100 million in assets, a survey shows.
The survey of 70,000 plans was conducted by LRP Market Research, West Palm Beach.
Middle-market plans - those with assets between $5 million and $100 million - gave Principal Financial Group, Putnam Investments and Fidelity Investments the highest satisfaction ratings as fund managers.
Middle-market plans gave the highest satisfaction ratings for plan administrators to Vanguard, Principal Financial and Fidelity.
Plans unhappy with their service providers cited poor administrative service and poor employee education and communications most frequently as the sources of their dissatisfaction.
Vanguard offers "bridge"
VALLEY FORGE, Pa. - Vanguard Group has released Vanguard Bridge, a direct connection for 401(k) and 403(b) plan sponsors to plan data via the Internet.
Current and historical plan, participant and investment information will be available via its Web site, www.vanguard.com.
The Web page also provides reference materials for plan management, news briefs, company announcements and service options.
Catalog goes national
SAN FRANCISCO - West Coast 401(k) vendor data research firm (k)la has launched a national version of the (k)form Catalog, a collection of industry data on the top 401(k) service providers.
The (k)form Catalog is designed to assist employers in replacing the RFP process by offering quarterly updated information on service features, pricing and investment performance criteria on major 401(k) providers. With more than 200 data fields, users can compare 401(k) providers based on their overall capabilities, services for employers and plan participants, investment options, administrative and investment fees. All information is provided by providers and verified for accuracy.
In addition, the catalog provides performance information from Value Line Mutual Fund Survey of New York. The catalog provides information on a broad range of financial services companies including banks, payroll providers, mutual fund companies, brokerage houses, administrative alliances and insurance companies. Providers are screened for size, longevity and quality of service.
BOSTON - Almost 70% of small-business owners are unaware of SIMPLE retirement plans nearly a year after their creation, a Fidelity Investments survey indicates.
The Savings Incentive Match Plan, introduced last January, was designed to address administrative and cost issues associated with offering a retirement plan in small businesses. The plans are funded by a combination of employee salary reduction and employer contributions and do not require annual tax filings or special testing by the Internal Revenue Service.
According to Fidelity, after hearing a description of the SIMPLE plan, about 67% of survey participants said they thought it would be beneficial for small businesses. About 83% of small-business owners who expect to offer a retirement plan in the future said they would consider such plans.Of those small businesses that offer retirement plans, nearly half (45%) offer a 401(k). For those planning to offer a plan in the future, the 401(k) also is the top choice.
Going to meetings pays off
BALTIMORE - Employee meetings are among the most effective tools for educating 401(k) plan participants about investments, according to surveys by T. Rowe Price.
According to the firm, more than half of the employees who attended a meeting planned to change their investment mix, and almost 90% of those planning to change their asset allocation planned to increase their investment in growth funds. The findings were the result of surveys of 21,751 employees attending retirement seminars sponsored by T. Rowe Price over an 18-month period.
For participants age 30 or younger who did not contribute to their plan, 90% said they intended to begin making contributions after attending a meeting, and 90% of employees with annual incomes of less than $30,000 and who were non-participants also said they planned to start contributing.
Those most strongly influenced to increase their contribution included women and those with lower incomes. About 58% of female employees planned to increase their contribution, compared with 47% of male employees. And nearly 65% of employees with incomes of less than $30,000 planned to increase their contribution, compared with 52% overall.
401(k) modeling online
CHICAGO - Community Financial Services has introduced an interactive Internet-based 401(k) modeling service that will allow users to instantly see the return differences generated by conservative, moderate and aggressive investment mixes.
James D. Nieds, ComFin president, said the free 401(k) modeling service allows participants to "estimate the value of your plan based upon a number of variables and assumptions. During your Internet session you can see the effects of increasing contributions, changing investment rates and a number of other scenarios."
The ComFin model was developed to accommodate Internet users and allow them access to tools required to help make better investment decisions, he said.
The ComFin service is available at http: www.ComFin.com.
Loan provisions a magnet
WASHINGTON - Participants in 401(k) plans that allow borrowing contribute, on average, 35% more than workers covered by 401(k) plans that don't allow borrowing, according to a General Accounting Office report.
The report also observed the provision might be a double-edged sword, reducing the retirement income of those who might need it the most - low-paid workers with few other assets, as well as minorities. This is especially true because many plans allow workers to borrow money at lower rates than they might have earned on their investment portfolio.