|MINNEAPOLIS, September 13, 2004 — American Express Retirement Services recently introduced an expanded distribution education service program for 401(k) retirement plan clients that includes outbound and personal contact follow-up calls. Frequently, once a retirement plan participant retires, the only ongoing education they receive on their plan is a quarterly statement or newsletter. American Express wants to help ensure that participants understand their options and actively manage their accounts based on their own needs. Since introducing the expanded distribution education services program and its personal contact feature, overall participant behaviors are changing for the better, with premature cash withdrawals down five percent in plans that have implemented the program.
A change in employee status on American Express’ recordkeeping system triggers a series of communication and education events. The first education piece a participant receives is a “Plans Change” brochure, which simply and thoroughly describes the different distribution options available to that individual. The brochure also offers the participant a toll-free, personal service line with a series-7 licensed Retirement Specialist who can assist the participant with their distribution and provide additional information and explanation.
To continue personal follow-up with the participant, American Express proactively contacts the individual over the phone using a series-7 licensed Retirement Specialist from its Retirement Success Line. The Retirement Specialist’s call provides readily available help if the participant has any questions or is confused about the distribution options available to them. Most importantly, it encourages the participant to take action.
The service also goes beyond distribution education, available to help employers communicate retirement plan or benefits changes, or take advantage of time sensitive education opportunities for their employees. In total, the new program is the product of a more than two-year, $4.5 million investment in technology, tools, process design and staff.
“We’ve used a personal contact feature on a limited basis in the past and received an extremely positive reception from participants,” said Rusty Field, vice president of American Express Financial Education and Planning Services. “They quickly recognize that this type of personal interaction helps draw special attention to the choices they face during such an important transition, and are grateful for clear information about the tax implications and other impacts of their decisions.”
Demand for the program is not surprising given results from American Express Retirement Services most recent Financial Stress and Advice Needs Survey, which found that one quarter to one third of people surveyed were interest in receiving more help with 401(k) Rollovers, investing in stocks, managing their stock options and saving for education (2004).
“Helping people preserve their savings during a transition and achieve their ultimate retirement goals is our primary motivator,” said Field. “The personal touch we can bring adds tremendous value to people in making that a reality.”
American Express Retirement Services, a service group of American Express Financial Advisors Inc., provides corporations, unions and municipalities, and their nearly 1 million workers nationwide with a complete package of financial education, recordkeeping, investments and trustee services for their qualified retirement plans. For more information on American Express Retirement Services, visit www.americanexpress.com/sponsors.
American Express Financial Advisors Inc. popularized early saving and investing programs for Americans more than 100 years ago, helping give rise to financial planning, mutual funds and retirement plans in the past century. Today, American Express continues its commitment to individuals and corporations with its Financial Education and Planning Services unit of American Express Retirement Services, which delivers workplace financial education programs to more than 2 million workers nationwide.
# # #
First use 9/13/2004
Registered investments and financial planning services are offered through American Express Financial Advisors Inc., Member NASD. American Express Company is separate from American Express Financial Advisors Inc. and is not a broker-dealer. Retirement plan and trust-related services are offered through American Express Trust Company.