NU Online News Service, March 29, 2:25 p.m. – Wells Fargo Corp., San Francisco, says it expects to hold more than $1 billion in individual retirement account assets by year end, due in part to a 300% increase in online IRA sales to consumers.

Wells Fargo, which says it was the first bank to offer the ability to open an IRA online, predicts 2002 will be the year of the online IRA. The company reports it has already seen a 37% increase in the use of the planning tools on its Web site, even before its recent launch of several IRA-specific tools.

Among those tools is its Online Retirement Planner, developed by Archimedes Systems, Inc., Waltham, Mass. The planner, found at http://www.wellsfargo.com, allows investors to enter information about their age, income, current savings and expected sources of retirement income to get a financial picture of their retirement outlook.

Using the planner, the individual can change assumptions about inflation and savings levels to develop different retirement scenarios, Wells Fargo says.