San Jose, CA (PRWEB) September 15, 2004 - Salt Lake City-
based convenience retailer, Maverik Country Stores, Inc., announced a milestone in their employee benefits program. In July, they passed the one-year anniversary of rolling out what was considered a revolutionary strategy for their 401(k) retirement savings plan: automatic enrollment in managed accounts for all plan participants. A year later, employees, record keeper and CFO report their satisfaction with the service.
According to Spencer Hewlett, CFO of Maverik, making the decision to move to a positive enrollment model Â in which participants who do not wish to receive advice must actively opt out Â was not a difficult choice. Faced with an employee population living with pay restrictions and other financial constraints, motivation to actively participate in retirement was very low. When Hewlett was introduced to the GuidedChoice managed accounts solution through MaverikÂs record keeper, ZionÂs Bank, his reaction was, "Why wouldnÂt we do it?"
While Hewlett does not see himself as an innovator, he acknowledges that he now reads about other companies going in the same ÂnewÂ direction. The fact is, that many plan sponsors and providers are only just now beginning to consider what Maverik has done, and what GuidedChoice first offered three years ago.
GREATER NEED FOR ADVICE TODAY
In the face of uncertain stock market performance and large numbers of job losses in the past three years, many 401(k) plans have seen decreases in participation rates and savings rates, along with large withdrawals as investors fled the market. Mutual fund assets declined and investment brokers had trouble growing assets. Add to this atmosphere of fear the normal factor of inertia, and the tendency to do nothing puts people at risk of a bleak outlook for retirement.
ÂIn our case, we have the added challenge of communicating to individuals spread out over a broad geographic area,Â explained Hewlett, Âmany of whom would be considered ÂunsophisticatedÂ or ÂuninvolvedÂ investors. While education has to be part of our responsibility, itÂs tough to make them take action. When we rolled out GuidedChoice in July 2003, employees participating in the plan were placed into managed accounts where we felt they would get maximum benefit of advice. Everyone else was provided with advice and given access to one-on-one assistance via telephone along with online enrollment options. Only 3% of participants chose to opt out. We really want to help our employees think about their future and do whatÂs best for them, and I think we accomplished that.Â
While MaverikÂs CFO is clearly pleased with the outcomes of his decision, the plan sponsorÂs record keeper is ecstatic. ZionÂs Bank recommended the GuidedChoice solution to Maverik as a way to encourage hard-to-reach employees to take action, and to provide ongoing education. ZionÂs felt that GuidedChoice was the only provider that would cover all their needs.
Once the selection was made, there was still the concern that the implementation would be difficult. ZionÂs Bank was pleasantly surprised. The GuidedChoice integration was seamless, according to one company source. They had the system up and running faster than anticipated.
Sherrie Grabot, CEO of GuidedChoice, explained that many clients have expressed disbelief that the system would work as smoothly or that the implementation would be as timely as promised. ÂItÂs sad to hear stories of past failures from our clients. It puts them in a defensive position. Our goal is to exceed the expectations of all parties involved and deliver exactly what we say we will. We take our responsibility very much to heart. PeopleÂs life savings are nothing to trivialize.Â
EMPLOYEES FEEL BETTER
Ms. Grabot continued, ÂMany plan sponsors and recordkeepers get phone calls from participants confused about what they should do, and clearly not wanting to spend a lot of time learning about investing. In MaverikÂs case, it was even more challenging because the employees are so spread out, itÂs difficult to get in front of their people to explain things. Now they can access GuidedChoice for answers.Â
Considering the tide of research showing that Americans arenÂt saving enough, finding solutions to reverse that trend will become more important. In a recent Hewitt study of 2.5 million employees, only 45% of employees aged 20-29 participate in their company 401(k) plans. And just 70% of all eligible employees participate Â leaving nearly a third uninvolved.
ÂItÂs not enough to just look at plan participation. You have to look at how much is being saved and how itÂs invested in order to help investors successfully reach their goals,Â concluded Ms. Grabot. ÂThatÂs what we do best Â create success.Â
Maverik Country Stores, Inc. operates about 170 convenience stores in seven western states in the US, including Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, and Montana, Utah and Wyoming. Corporate offices in Salt Lake City, UT and Afton, WY. Maverik represents the areaÂs largest independent gasoline marketer.
For more information about this story, contact: Brad Call, VP of Human Resources, firstname.lastname@example.org
GuidedChoice is an independent service firm providing investment advice and managed account services to individual retirement plan participants. Their patented business process is based on their teamÂs extensive, real-world experience with investors, retirement plans and investment managers. GuidedChoice advice is based on trusted industry standards of asset allocation, built into the software analytics and delivered through sophisticated automation. Their solution offers one-click implementation to participants and simple, automated integration to plans and plan sponsors.
The GuidedChoice team includes leaders and innovators from the financial services, human resources, and technology fields. The team responsible for overseeing the development of the advisory software and investment solutions are led by Harry M. Markowitz, Ph.D., the Nobel laureate who developed Modern Portfolio Theory (http://biz.yahoo.com/edu/bi/ir_bi5.ir.html ). Dr. Markowitz has over forty years of experience working with financial theory, developing optimization software, and managing assets, and is actively involved in the day-to-day refinement of the GuidedChoice analytical software. GuidedChoice is headquartered in La Jolla, CA with communications handled in San Jose, CA.
For more information please contact:
Or visit http://www.guidedchoice.com
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