From the July 2007 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

July 1, 2007

NEWS & PRODUCTS, JULY 2007

A new group has been formed to help independent third-party recordkeepers' voices be heard on Capitol Hill. The Council of Independent 401(k) Recordkeepers (CIKR), a sister organization to The American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA), was developed this year during an ASPPA sales summit after TPAs expressed their concerns that they weren't being heard in the nation's capital when it came to proposed legislation. Rosemarie Panico-Marino, managing director and national practice leader for retirement resources at RSM McGladrey, one of the founders of CIKR, said in a statement that "the organization will provide members an opportunity to be involved with the ongoing policy discussion regarding the disclosure of fees and other recordkeeping issues related to 401(k) plans." The organization, she said, "will also work closely with the Department of Labor, SEC, and with policy makers in Congress to ensure the viewpoints of independent 401(k) providers are considered."

A recent report by the Social Investment Forum (SIF) has found that socially responsible investment (SRI) options in defined contribution plans are in demand. The study found that 60% of plan sponsors reported that they either currently offer an SRI option in their DC plan or intend to offer an SRI fund within the next three years. Plan sponsors also indicated that they lack knowledge about SRI fund options and the range of funds available. The study also found that 19% of the 129 DC plans that responded--which represented public, corporate, faith-based, and healthcare sponsors, among others--already include an SRI option. Other key findings were that an additional 41% of respondents plan to add an SRI option to their DC plan within three years; and alignment with the organization's mission was the primary driver for adding an SRI options followed by recommendations from pension-related staff and management.

The Medicare Quality Enhancement Act was introduced by Senators Judd Gregg (R-NH) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY) in early June and would provide Medicare enrollment, claims, and survey and assessment data to private organizations to develop reports that measure health care quality for public use. According to Business Roundtable, the reports could include physician-specific data that is essential for identifying high quality and efficient practice patterns and promoting cost control strategies that improve rather than compromise quality. "Rising health care costs affect America's workers, consumers, employers, and government, inhibiting job creation and hurting our ability to compete in global markets," said John Castellani, Business Roundtable's president, in a statement supporting the bill. Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs whose companies represent more than 10 million employees and provide health care coverage for more than 35 million Americans, also issued in early June a report titled "Health Care Costs in America: A Call to Action for Covering the Uninsured," which outlines principles for reform. The principles are based on the premise that the employer-based health care system is valuable and the CEOs of Business Roundtable are committed to maintaining and improving it.

New York Life Retirement Plan Services, a division of New York Life Investment Management LLC, recently introduced an in-depth program designed to help the firm and its clients better understand and predict employee retirement planning behavior. Using a unique cluster analysis process, the company can now categorize participants into six distinct segments according to various behavioral, attitudinal, and demographic factors, New York Life says. Armed with this intelligence, New York Life can work more effectively with employers, providing an array of customized tools to fit the differing needs of participants within their plans. "This advanced segmentation program allows us to be more consultative with our plan sponsor and financial intermediary clients and offer better campaigns, better Web sites, and better products to meet their specific participants' needs," said Don Salama, senior managing director and head of New York Life Retirement Plan Services, in a prepared statement.

David Pratt, Professor of Law at Albany Law School in New York, recently became Of Counsel to Reish Luftman Reicher & Cohen, and will join the law firm's already well-established and growing Employee Benefits practice group. Pratt has been with the Albany Law School since 1994, where he teaches courses in employee benefits (ERISA), federal income taxation, business planning, and trusts and estates. As a practicing lawyer, Pratt has specialized in the design and implementation of retirement plans and other employee benefit programs for a wide range of private and public sector clients.

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