From the April 2007 issue of Research Magazine • Subscribe!

Bringing ETFs to 401(k)s

In mid-February, National Planning Corporation (NPC) announced the launch of a 401(k) retirement plan program designed to give small and mid-sized companies the ability to provide plan participants access to personalized, one-on-one investment advice from an experienced financial advisor. Most significantly, the platform uses exchange-traded funds designed and managed by Avatar Associates as its primary investment option.

"The retirement plan market has long been dominated by mutual funds, but the transparency of fees and low cost of ETFs make them an extremely efficient and attractive investment for both plan sponsors and participants," explains NPC President Shawn Dreffein. "By using advanced technology for administration and record keeping, NPC is able to make a high-quality, advice-driven 401(k) program affordable and easy to implement for middle-market companies."

NPC representatives deliver quarterly onsite investment seminars at no additional cost to plan sponsors. Employees can also schedule appointments with the advisor of their choice as needed. Plan participants can select from five fully diversified portfolios, professionally managed and rebalanced regularly by Avatar. Participants also have convenient online or 24-hour telephone access to their account information.

For plan sponsors, the program also offers easy online access to participant account and investment information, as well as updates in employee benefit laws and other fiduciary considerations. The program provides each employer with an individual plan book that includes educational material for plan participants along with risk assessment questionnaires, portfolio descriptions, enrollment forms and a glossary of terms.

"By giving all employees, regardless of their position in the company, access to personalized service from an experienced financial advisor and tactical asset allocation from a professional money manager investing in ETFs, we are effectively changing the way people invest and prepare for retirement," says Stuart Paris, who is both an NPC representative and president of Great Neck, N.Y.-based financial services firm Paris International. "NPC's plan is also highly flexible -- it works just as efficiently for businesses with 10 employees as it does for those with 1,000 employees."

NPC has already established dedicated teams of 401(k) professionals at seven regional offices across the country to help its representatives incorporate 401(k)s into their practices and assist them with sales and service.

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Ron DeLegge is the editor of www.etfguide.com.

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