Merrill Lynch Monday made a move into cyberspace by announcing plans to deliver investment advice and transaction capabilities over the Internet to its 401(k) participants.
The new service, Financial Engines Investment Advisor, will be delivered through Merrill’s Bene OnLine, which now serves more than 1 million participants in 401(k), stock option and stock purchase plans with plan information and transactional capabilities.
Financial Engines Investment Advisor is a software product developed by a team of finance and software experts, including economics Nobel Laureate William F. Sharpe. It is designed to help individuals gauge how various investment strategies will affect their retirement portfolios.
“Advice and guidance is the No. 1 concern of 401(k) plan sponsors and participants today. Merrill Lynch has determined that the best advice and guidance solution for our plan sponsors and participants is a spectrum of options…,” said Patrick Walsh, senior vice president and director of Merrill’s group employee services unit.
Sharpe said the service recognizes the unprecedented need for everyone to make informed decisions about their retirement savings.
“Most 401(k) plan participants appreciate an advisor that is unbiased, trusted and will assist them with key decisions such as how much to save and how much risk to take with their investments. By partnering with a third-party advice provider, Merrill Lynch is demonstrating its commitment to helping companies limit their liability while providing their participants with a high quality advisory service to help them maximize their 401(k) benefits,” he said.