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Bells & Whistles.

Summary paragraph: Recent product introductions that may be of interest to plan sponsors

Platform Enhancements

BOK Financial launched a website for retirement plan sponsors and participants using its StartRight retirement plan program, as well as mobile access through the StartRight RetireRight application (app) for Apple and Android smartphones. Among the improved tools is the My RetireRight Planner, through which users can set up personalized goals for their retirement. Participants can alter certain aspects of their plan-for instance, adjust their contribution rate or investments-and track their progress to see how those changes may improve their chances for goal-achievement.

A new advisory program from Merrill Lynch helps clients assemble and compare competing financial concerns while also shaping an individualized, goal-oriented path toward retirement. The framework is presented and leveraged through a unified mobile and tablet application (app), and brings together the seven distinct life priorities most commonly cited by the company's clients. The Merrill Lynch Clear program offers education and best next-step advice to reach these goals, utilizing interactive tools and calculators that allow clients to start thinking about how each applies to their asset allocations and portfolio-building decisions.

An online portal from InHub LLC, a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)-registered online investment adviser, helps fiduciaries quickly develop and circulate requests for proposals (RFPs) for retirement plan advisers. Its new "eRFP" technology is designed to help plan sponsors navigate the RFP process with prudence and ease. Fiduciaries use the program to invite qualified adviser candidates to respond to their eRFP by searching InHub's online community of vetted, institutionally focused advisers.

Retirement Clearinghouse LLC has introduced an Internet-enhanced, comprehensive search service to locate missing retirement plan participants. The firm updated its services by combining searches of national change-of-address records and commercial databases with an Internet tracker and social media search capabilities. The service validates and revises participant data, oversees mailings to last-known addresses, locates missing participants when possible, and helps plan sponsors meet fiduciary responsibilities.

UBS Wealth Management Americas launched Knowledge Center, an online portal that provides education about equity awards and access to financial planning advice for equity compensation plan participants. It is available through UBS One Source, a website for equity plan participants to view consolidated account information, as well as to model and transact equity awards. The information is personalized to each participant by award type, experience with awards, level of financial knowledge, life stage and financial concerns.

Alliance Benefit Group (ABG), a regional retirement plan administrator organization, is offering a financial fitness program to retirement plan participants. ABG-IL has partnered with BALANCE, a financial counseling and education company, to provide free and confidential financial counseling and education to retirement plan participants. Through the program, participants can obtain help with managing budgets, getting out of debt, understanding credit reports, buying a home, handling senior issues and planning for their financial future.

Plan sponsors can get practical advice about creating a plan that improves retirement outcomes for participants and also meets fiduciary obligations in Russell's new fiduciary guide, "A Defined Contribution [DC] Retirement Plan Handbook." The guide's three sections are designed to help plan officials better understand the important considerations when designing and implementing defined contribution plans that aim to boost retirement income for their participants. The handbook examines trends shaping the defined contribution landscape and plan design, and provides insight into plan fees and default investment considerations, asset-class menus and recommendations for how to think about income solutions.

Retirement Income

BlackRock Inc. has expanded its proprietary CoRI retirement suite with new income projection and portfolio-allocation analysis tools. These additions enhance the CoRI online portal with a new feature that helps pre-retirees identify savings and investment strategies that can aid them in planning how to reach income goals in retirement. The firm says a saver can use the appropriate CoRI Index to estimate how much his current savings may generate in annual lifetime income when he turns 65 or, conversely, how much he would need to have currently saved to reach a certain level of annual retirement income upon reaching that age.


Envestnet Inc. has enhanced the capabilities of its Impact Investing Solutions platform, through which retirement plan clients can develop socially responsible investing (SRI) programs. These impact-investment services are offered through Envestnet/PMC, its portfolio management consultants business. This program provides financial advisers and institutions with access to a comprehensive set of model portfolios, specialist advice and digital SRI portfolio-building tools. MSCI ESG Research, a provider of in-depth fund research, ratings and analysis of environmental, social and governance (ESG)-related business practices, offers additional resources as a partner in this initiative.

Invesco PowerShares Capital Management has launched the PowerShares Variable Rate Preferred (VRP) Portfolio. The aim of this portfolio is to provide income-seeking investors with efficient exposure to a portfolio of variable-rate preferred securities. In the rising-interest-rate environment, Invesco expects that its risk/reward profile and tendency to trade on a yield-to-call basis may provide variable-rate preferred securities the potential to outperform the fixed-rate preferred market.

T. Rowe Price, a provider of investment management services, has launched the Credit Opportunities Fund. The company has constructed the new fund to take advantage of an array of credit instruments that offer compelling risk/return trade-offs. It will also take a total return approach that balances capital appreciation and income. The portfolio of the fund will be relatively concentrated, consisting of the investment team's highest-conviction ideas for generating total return. The fund also offers exposure to areas of the credit markets that may not be closely followed by many participants in the traditional asset management industry and, therefore, may be mispriced.

Defined Benefit

Accenture has a new enterprise solution to help public pension plan administrators take advantage of the flexibility and cost savings of a commercial off-the-shelf technology system. This system, Accenture's Enterprise Solution for Pensions (AESP), is based on Oracle's PeopleSoft applications (apps) and Oracle Middleware and technology. AESP's flexibility enables faster and more cost-effective pension system operations, and provides organizations with greater flexibility and the agility needed to adapt as policies change. It provides the business functionality modern public pension programs need, including member and retiree management and administration, employer administration and contribution, payroll and payment management, Accenture says.


MullinTBG, a Prudential Financial company and a provider of nonqualified executive benefits, has created a Plan Sponsor Reporting Center. The solution will offer plan sponsors more options, flexibility and convenience for accessing the plan- and participant-related information they need. Plan sponsors can run 22 new standard reports for balances, elections, transactions and enrollment, as well as customize, save and schedule a variety of reports to run on-demand.
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Date:Jun 1, 2014
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