New York (April 29, 2004) -- Once thought of as a long shot, the ability to offer financial planning services in the workplace is now available to planners who are members of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, through an exclusive relationship with Hewitt Associates’ employer clients.


Called the Hewitt Financial Checkup program, the partnership -- unveiled at last week’s annual NAPFA conference in Toronto -- will put NAPFA planners in the running to provide employee advice, along with firms like Morningstar’s mPower and Financial Engines that already offer planning services through employers.


As part of the program, planners will conduct one two-hour meeting with the employee, with a follow-up phone or e-mail conversation. Topics can range from reviews of retirement plans, investments and insurance, to 401(k) rollover guidance, cash flow management, education savings plans, income tax planning and home financing options. Hewitt literature recommends that planners should charge between $500 and $750 for each financial checkup.


"A lot of employees that have certain life situations are looking for help but not for asset management," said Stacy Schaus, a spokeswoman for Lincolnshire, Ill.-based Hewitt Associates. Schaus declined to say which companies will be implementing the program, but added that Hewitt is encouraging the companies to pick up the tabs for the planning fees.


NAPFA planners interested in taking part in the program must have three or more years of investment management or financial planning experience, E&O insurance of $500,000 per incident ($1 million in total) and a focus on middle-market clients. Hewitt expects 150 to 200 planners to sign on by this time next year.


The alliance is a part of Hewitt’s broader AdvisorConnection program, which began a year ago. The 87 advisors connected with the program offer both financial planning and discretionary asset management to 20 Hewitt corporate clients, representing approximately 422,000 employees. These advisors are required to have seven years of experience. In addition, Hewitt takes 15 percent of the fee they charge to clients. In the Financial Checkup program, no percentage of fees is due to Hewitt, but planners are required to pay a $500 annual fee to Hewitt.


Advisors will be connected to employees based on geographic proximity or specific planning expertise. Employees will be given two initial choices of planners.


"We have a rapidly growing piece of our membership serving the middle market," said NAPFA chair Michael Joyce in an interview. "This is something that will be a good source of qualified clients."


However, Schaus says that Hewitt prefers that planners not use the checkups as a means to get new clients.


For additional details on the program, visit www.wmze.com/NAPFA.htm


-- Laurie Kulikowski, Financial-Planning.com

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