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Bells & Whistles.

Summary paragraph: Each month, Bells & Whistles highlights recent product introductions that plan sponsors may find of interest.

More information about these announcements can be found on If you have a product announcement that you believe would be of interest to our readers, drop us a line at


The Hartford has introduced a tool that permits retirement plan participants to set savings and income goals, track their progress and integrate other financial sources. The Hartford's Retirement Access website has added a number of customizable tools, including the five-step My Retirement Tracker, making it easier for participants to manage their retirement savings accounts and set goals based on their desired lifestyle in retirement.

Mercer has launched a website featuring resources about pension risk, benefit choices and talent management. "Inside Employers' Minds: Confronting Critical Workforce Challenges" will allow employers to better manage risks related to growing pension liabilities and the potential impact on corporate financial performance; enable employees to make better choices as they take greater accountability for retirement and health benefit decisions; and find new ways to build agile, world-class work

forces that are ready and able to respond to evolving business needs and new opportunities.

The Guardian Insurance & Annuity Company Inc. (GIAC) unveiled a website to help plan sponsors and plan participants navigate the 401(k) marketplace. "Understanding Plan Fees" provides information and tools to assist plan participants and plan sponsors in understanding their retirement plan fees, the services they pay for and the value the different service providers bring to the table.

J.P. Morgan Retirement Plan Services launched a mobile application for 401(k) plan participants, which allows users to access key account information, including the estimated annual income the individual is set to receive in retirement. The app also includes a "quick enroll" feature, enabling nonparticipants to enroll in their employer-sponsored retirement plan with their date of birth, last five digits of their Social Security number and zip code.

Broadridge Financial Solutions is offering a turnkey solution to help its clients meet the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) 408(b)(2) fee disclosure reporting requirements. The solution comes to market through a strategic alliance between Broadridge and Castle Rock Innovations LLC. The offering is designed to service all retirement plan types through a single Web-based platform and data repository. The solution can be customized to meet specific client needs.


Manning & Napier launched the Manning & Napier Goal Collective Investment Trust [CIT] Funds, a suite of 10 actively managed target-date funds (TDFs) that will invest in a variety of exchange-traded funds (ETFs). The funds provide an opportunity for active management at a lower cost structure while maintaining diversification of asset classes, market sectors and securities through ETFs.

Safeguard Financial released its Managed Real Estate Investment Program for self-directed individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and 401(k) plans. Investments start around $45,000, and the targeted return on investment (ROI) is 9% to 12%. Geographic regions have been chosen where rent-to-value ratios are highly favorable and employment is stable. Safeguard's income-producing properties have been fully rehabbed, with high standards for tenant and property management.


The Rosenbaum Law Firm introduced Retirement Plan LegalEase, an Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) legal solution, for $1,000. LegalEase offers plan sponsors a legal review of their retirement plans, plan documents, administration, fiduciary processes and fees.

MetLife Resources unveiled an online fiduciary assessment quiz created to help Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) plan sponsors understand and properly execute their fiduciary responsibilities. The quiz guides users through 14 statements focusing on areas such as investment policy statements and potential conflicts of interest.

Financial Plan Inc. of Bellingham, Washington, launched a new branch of business dedicated to 401(k) plans. With its new program, Financial Plan adds more transparency and cost-effective solutions to Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) pensions, profit sharing and 401(k) and 403(b) plans. The fee-only model of Financial Plan allows its advisers, who work as ERISA 3(38) fiduciaries, to put clients' needs first and avoid hidden fees. Financial Plan's advisers are not paid on commission, nor tied to any brokerage firms, platform providers, third-party administrators (TPAs) or investment companies.

MassMutual's Retirement Services Division has updated its fiduciary guide to help retirement plan fiduciaries navigate the maze of changing regulatory requirements. The 2012 Guide serves as a detailed tool kit to assist plan fiduciaries in determining their status and understanding their responsibilities. It helps them identify and undertake required actions; employ practical suggestions to keep their plan on track and fulfill their obligations; plus consider voluntary actions they can take to improve their plan and mitigate risk. MassMutual is also offering a fiduciary calendar, which includes important deadlines and information about new requirements.


CAMRADATA Analytical Services has released a white paper that sets out a checklist of plan sponsor and fiduciary actions to be considered and implemented as part of the defined benefit (DB) plan termination process. The paper, "The Fiduciary's Role in the Termination of Single Employer Defined Benefit Plans: A Practical Guide," expands on the fiduciary's risks and responsibilities in bringing the termination to a close.


Northwestern Mutual launched a retirement strategy that does not assume a fixed life expectancy. The strategy considers the very high possibility that an individual will live past the average life expectancy. According to Northwestern, there is a 25% chance that a 65-year-old man will live to age 94, a 65-year-old woman to age 95, or at least one spouse of a 65-year-old couple to age 98. Using Northwestern's strategy, the company's financial professionals help clients create a stream of reliable income throughout retirement, protect retirement savings so they last a lifetime, and leave behind a legacy.


PENSCO has launched PENSCO SuccessorCustodian, which enables institutions to easily transfer entire classes of alternative assets to PENSCO, a company that specializes in holding and administering complex alternative assets in tax-advantaged retirement accounts. The firm says that state and federal regulators are directing wirehouses and broker/dealers to find independent, successor custodians for tens of billions of dollars of alternative investments in client retirement accounts. Regulators want financial institutions to designate independent custodians to hold those client accounts, to ensure that alternative assets in independent retirement accounts (IRAs) and other tax-qualified plans remain in tax and regulatory compliance.
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Date:Aug 1, 2012
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