|MINNEAPOLIS, May 10, 2004 ó American Express Retirement Services today introduced BluePrint, a retirement plan service and communication model that employs a revolutionary new approach to serving retirement plan sponsors. BluePrint moves beyond measuring traditional elements such as plan participation, deferral rates and diversification, to help plan sponsors learn whether their plan is truly working for their employees, their business and their shareholders.
Using traditional metrics combined with a more in-depth analysis of demographic and benchmarking data, BluePrint reveals whether or not employees are on track toward their replacement income goals needed in retirementóand ultimately tells them what their plan is delivering to them and their shareholders.
"At its essence, the measure of a planís true success lies is estimating the retirement future of each employee," said Ward Armstrong, president of American Express Retirement Services. "Will the retirement plan be successful for them? Are they on track to replace the income necessary to live in retirement? With BluePrint, we have grown beyond merely providing the latest plan features, education programs and advice calculations. While these are all-important tools, we have begun building our client relationships on a new foundation by helping plan sponsors clearly define, measure and achieve true success with their retirement plans."
BluePrint employs a 3-stage approach Ė from Assessment to Execution to Results:
∑ A Foundation to help plan sponsors understand what their plan objectives are and learn if the plan is truly doing what it is designed to do.
∑ A Framework that produces an effective retirement strategy complete with plan and investment changes, targeted employee education and fiduciary support.
∑ And a Building and Refining stage that focuses on tracking and measuring results over time with improved plan metrics.
Assessment: Laying the Foundation
BluePrint begins by setting down a solid foundation, working with the plan sponsor to jointly understand and define a vision of success for their plan, and the specific goals and objectives at stake in making that vision a reality. BluePrint then goes deeper into these intentions to ensure they are achievable and measurable. This analysis can include plan metrics, employee behaviors, investment selections, plan design consideration, fee structure, service expectations and more.
This foundational work results in a unique Success Plan designed specifically for the plan sponsor, setting the standard going forward to pursue and achieve the desired success for the plan, employees and the plan sponsor.
Execution: Assembling the Framework
Once the Success Plan is established, American Express Retirement Services works with the plan sponsor to research and analyze plan data, ultimately creating a Retirement Strategy. This strategic work includes recommendations for plan design changes, investment changes, new products or services, and targeted employee education opportunities that can affect the plan measures.
Using a "Retirement Plan Diagnostic Management Report" created specifically for each client, BluePrint provides a detailed analysis of retirement plan data to help them better understand participant behaviors and identify opportunity segments in the population where savings decisions can be influenced. Driving these changes in behavior ultimately improves participant retirement readiness and contributes to the overall success of the retirement plan. The information in this report is used to create the uniquely prescribed Retirement Strategy designed to achieve the plan and participant goals outlined in the success plan.
Results: Building and Refining
BluePrintís Building and Refining stage is where the Foundation and Framework give rise to the structure of the planís success by initiating a series of comprehensive financial and retirement programs over time that deliver on the clientís most specific objectives.
During the ongoing Building and Refining stage, Blueprint delivers solutions and tracks activity and results that measure the planís progress against the Success Plan. Clients receive a calendar of events and activities along with ongoing reporting to understand whether their plan is on track or if adjustments are needed along the way to deliver the success.
The Retirement Plan Diagnostic Management Report within BluePrint also enables greater effectiveness for employee education programs set in motion by the Retirement Strategy. This report guides the programs so they are simple, yet targeted, personalized and systematic.
Further, American Express Retirement Services targets communications to distinct segments of employees identified based on their retirement plan behavior and other key demographics and life events. Over the course of time, employee behavior changes are mapped in response to the programs and communications are adjusted to further that participant down the path toward retirement readiness in an iterative process.
Multiplying the Effectiveness of the Retirement Plan Benefits Plan Sponsors Provide
"Companies invest large amounts of money each year in benefits in order to attract and retain quality employees. The fact is that many employees are not making full use of these benefits," said Rusty Field, vice president of financial education and planning services for American Express Retirement Services. A 2004 study by Greenwich Associates found that about 20% of eligible workers opt out of their retirement plan, and that nearly 23% of the assets in bigger defined contribution plans remain in company stock.
Field continued, "American Express Retirement Services has created BluePrint to help plan sponsors multiply the effectiveness of their retirement plan benefits, and give them confidence by working with them to create a Success Plan against which we can help them achieve measurable results."
About American Express Retirement Services
American Express Retirement Services, a service group of American Express Financial Advisors Inc., provides corporations, unions and municipalities, and their nearly 900,000 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.
On Feb. 1, 2005, American Express Company announced plans to pursue a spin-off to shareholders of the American Express Financial Advisors unit. The transaction is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2005, subject to certain conditions.
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First use 4/05
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.