NU Online News Service, Jan. 22, 12:02 p.m. – AIG VALIC, Houston, plans to begin offering independent investment advice from Ibbotson Associates, Chicago, in March to members of defined-contribution retirement plans sponsored by nonprofit employers.

Workers who belong to participating plans will be able to pay an annual, asset-based fee for specific investment advice.

Workers will also be able to pay for an outside company to take over the task of portfolio management, AIG VALIC says.

Holston Medical Group, Kingsport, Tenn., is already testing the program.

Federal regulations usually prohibit retirement plan service providers from offering participants personalized investment advice.

AIG VALIC overcame that barrier in December 2001, by getting an advisory opinion from the U.S. Department of Labor that creates an exception to the prohibition. The opinion lets AIG VALIC offer independent advice supplied by a “third-party expert,” AIG VALIC says.

AIG VALIC is a unit of American International Group Inc., New York.