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View More Press Releases by American Express Retirement Services

Press release:

American Express 401(k) Participant Survey Reveals Plan Communication and Education are drivers of Investment Satisfaction with Performance and Choice

Issued by: American Express Retirement Services

Date: Oct. 20, 2004

MINNEAPOLIS, October 20, 2004 — American Express Retirement Services today announced additional results from its recent 2004 Participant Satisfaction Survey. The additional findings revealed that participant satisfaction was frequently based on a positive correlation between satisfaction with plan communications and satisfaction with investment performance and choice.

Conventional wisdom has long held that participant investment satisfaction was mostly at the mercy of the market and investment performance. The 2004 survey shows that participants’ satisfaction level with plan communications—information such as statements and financial education materials—can significantly affect how participants feel about their investments. In short, participants who were satisfied with their plan communications were more likely to be satisfied with their investment choices and fund performance.

"It’s a given that the market plays a huge role with how people are feeling about their plan," said Rusty Field, vice president - American Express Financial Education and Planning Services. "But, I think plan sponsors have long assumed that the market was the only real factor—and, therefore, participant satisfaction was out of their control. Now we have tangible evidence that plan investment education efforts have a fundamental impact on that satisfaction as well."

The 2004 Survey also showed an overall correlating relationship between satisfaction with communications, investment performance, investment choices and overall participant satisfaction levels with their plan. While this may be an obvious finding, tracing overall satisfaction back to communications is important for plan sponsors as they make plan design and communications decisions.

"As the next-generation investment products, such as managed accounts and targeted maturity funds gain traction in the marketplace, these findings undoubtedly demonstrate the key role communication and education will play in increasing the quality of the participant experience in their retirement plan," said Field.

Plan sponsors also should benefit from strengthening plan communication and education beyond merely increasing satisfaction with investments. Participants continue to seek more financial education in the workplace. The 2004 survey found that a large majority of participants (76%) are eager to receive additional, non-retirement financial services through the workplace, consistent with American Express’ 2002 and 2000 surveys.

The American Express Retirement Services 2004 Participant Satisfaction Survey measures overall participant satisfaction with plan features, services, investments and communications, and is designed to help plan sponsor clients study the satisfaction level and needs of their plan participants.  Because the majority of the survey results are client and plan specific, the entire results of the survey are not available to the public.

About the Survey
Advanis conducted the internet-based survey between April and June 2004, with a random sample achieved of 3,650 participants in retirement plans serviced by American Express Retirement Services. The American Express Global Marketplace Insights research group provided data analysis.

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.

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First use 10/04
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.

View More Press Releases by American Express Retirement Services

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