BOSTON -- Scudder Defined Contribution Services has developed a software-based information tool designed to help employees gain an understanding of how much money they can save for retirement and the tax benefits of participating in their employer-sponsored plans.
The Paycheck Calculator is designed to help employees adjust their pretax and after-tax contributions and to see immediately how it affects their net pay. The program also provides a printout comparing the desired pretax contribution amount to what an employee's paycheck would look like if they did not contribute pretax dollars.
Using information from the employee's most recent pay statement, Paycheck Calculator computes gross and taxable income per pay period, FICA and federal income taxes. Employees can input their pretax and after-tax contributions in either a dollar or percentage format. Once these figures are inserted, the program calculates the employee's net pay, the amount of savings they will have invested each pay period and the amount of savings they could contribute annually.
Better education increases participation
PURCHASE, N.Y. -- A revised retirement education enrollment program by Diversified Investment Advisors has shown dramatic results in increasing employee participation rates in DIA's bundled 401(k), 403(b) and 457 plans, according to firm officials.
Instead of providing employees with volumes of materials and lengthy seminars, DIA has focused on an easy-to-use retirement planning kit that helps employees create a planning strategy more rapidly than the traditional methods.
The program shows how much income each participant will need in retirement, and indicates how monthly or weekly contributions, invested properly over time, will yield the targeted annual retirement income.
Tom Schlossberg, DIA president, said the new program has produced some impressive results. He said DIA has found 83% of eligible employees, not previously enrolled, joined their plans after participating in the new program.
In addition, 49% of employees who already were participating in their employer-sponsored plan, said they would increase their contribution rates after participating in the program. Also, according to DIA surveys, 75% of current participants said they would change their investment allocations to generate the money they will need to retire.
S&P starts Internet investment service
NEW YORK -- Standard & Poor's Financial Information Services launched an Internet-based personal investment service designed for individual investors but includes personalized financial information that could be of value for 401(k) participants.
The S&P Personal Wealth services contains a comprehensive suite of investment management features such as personalized investment recommendations; buy, sell and hold alerts, updated daily; live market commentary; and detailed investment analysis and research.
Located at www.personalwealth.com, S&P Personal Wealth investment also provides intra-day financial news, market information and company research. Its investment recommendations are based on the individual's personal financial profile including retirement planning needs, risk tolerance and investment goals and objectives. While the service is focused on individual financial planning and personal portfolios, officials say 401(k) plan participants, particularly those with self-directed brokerage accounts or mutual fund window options, also would benefit.
The service costs $9.95 per month after a free trial period.
Computer tutorial focuses on basics of retirement plans
PARAMUS, N.J. -- Sterling Resources has developed a computer-based training program designed to teach the basics of retirement plans to employees of financial service companies.
Retirement Plans 101 takes about eight hours to complete and is divided into modules covering the understanding of defined contribution plans, fundamentals of retirement plans, sources of regulation, and requirements of qualified plans. The material presents subject matter that trust and investment employees should know to respond effectively to client needs.
The testing module includes a test bank of 500 questions from which users receive a randomly developed test for each module, organized by topic.
The program provides an introduction to the various types of retirement plans, their characteristics and the roles and responsibilities of plan providers and participants.
According to Sterling Resources the program will be beneficial to employees in the record keeping, administration, customer service and human resources areas.
Sterling developed Retirement Plans 101 together with Wachovia Operational Services Corp.
Principal Financial offers clients daily access
DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Principal Financial Group is the latest to offer its bundled 401(k) clients daily access to account balance information via the Internet.
In addition to obtaining account values, plan members also receive general updated information about their plan and other educational information, news about retirement trends, and information about investment options in the sponsor's plan. The new service, which offers members the ability to track their investment portfolio, is offered at no charge.