Jan. 16, 2007

Symetra Financial and Mesirow Financial, Bellevue, Wash., has announced an agreement to offer small businesses more choice and flexibility for employer-sponsored 401(k) plans. The partnership will greatly expand the number of mutual funds available in Symetra’s 401(k) platform, giving small businesses cost effective access to the type of plans typically available only to Fortune-500 sized companies.

With the addition of Mesirow Financial, 80 mutual funds are now available in the Symetra platform, adding enhanced flexibility to respond to the diverse investment needs of America’s small businesses. Because there are no proprietary mutual funds, plan participants can choose from a broad set of funds from leading investment management firms, such as American Funds, Dreyfus Corporation, Fidelity Management & Research, AIM Investments and American Century Funds.

Experts in fund selection and asset allocation, Mesirow Financial will monitor the performance of funds in Symetra’s 401(k) program on an ongoing, quarterly basis, making it easier and more efficient to maintain retirement plans. The Symetra program will also provide co-fiduciary services at no cost for plans using Mesirow Financial-prescribed funds, further helping plan-sponsors manage their fiduciary risk exposure.

Traditionally, larger employers have been more likely than smaller companies to offer employment-based retirement plans(1). However, most signs point toward long-term growth in the small business marketplace. Symetra’s 401(k) program was developed to reach this underserved yet growing market.

“It can be difficult for small businesses to offer the same type of retirement plan benefits that large companies provide due to high cost and the limited options that are made available to them,” said Scott Bartholomaus, vice president of retirement services at Symetra Financial. “Our goal is to give small businesses a broad selection of retirement plan options that are easy to administer, affordable and widely accessible to workers. Mesirow Financial shares this goal and this partnership will greatly enhance Symetra’s 401(k) program.”

“Through our role in the Symetra 401(k) program, small businesses now have access to professional analysis, expert fund selection and extensive research tools provided by an unbiased and independent expert,” comments James C. Tyree, chief executive officer of Mesirow Financial. “This agreement underscores our long-term commitment to providing high-quality investment research services to small companies that enhance their retirement programs and ultimately benefit the workforce.”