The Principal Financial Group to Acquire BCI Group: The Principal Financial Group, a provider of 401(k) plans, announced that it will acquire Appleton, Wis.-based Benefit Consultants Inc. (BCI Group), a consulting, actuarial and administration firm that specializes in the administration of employee stock ownership plans.

Financial details were not disclosed, but the agreement was expected to close this month.

"A key part of our strategy is to seek acquisitions that add scale to our existing retirement plan business, while providing a complete product continuum for our clients," said Daniel J. Houston, a senior vice president at PFG. "BCI’s business complements our focus on growing companies and institutional clients, enhancing our ESOP and defined benefit capabilities."

BCI Group has 90 employees and services more than 500 clients nationwide. PFG has $117.4 billion in assets under management and serves 13 million customers from offices around the world.

Equitable Life Reformats Life Products Portfolio: AXA Financial subsidiary Equitable Life Assurance Society has redesigned its Incentive Life and Survivorship Incentive Life product portfolio. The new products feature enhancements including an increase in the preferred plus underwriting classes, higher issue ages and an increased rate band. Key enhancements to the Equitable IL II and Equitable SIL II include shorter surrender charge periods, 1035 exchange carryover loan provisions and reduced insurance rates. Both products have also increased issue ages -- IL II, 0 to 85; and SIL II, 20 to 90/85 (if both are standard).

In addition, Equitable’s IL II and SIL II will continue to feature over 30 investment options, including the AXA Premier VIP Portfolios, as well as two death benefit options.

Paychex Posts Rise in 2Q Profits, Revenues: Payroll and benefits services provider Paychex Inc. posted second-quarter profits of $74.7 million, for the period ended Nov. 30, a 9-percent rise from the year-ago quarter. Revenues for the period rose by 15 percent, to $269 million.

Paychex’s second-quarter financials were buoyed by the accretive results from Advantage Payroll Services, which Paychex acquired last September for about $240 million in cash.

Six-month profits at the company jumped by 8 percent, to $150.6 million, vs. the same period a year ago, while six-month revenues spiked by 11 percent, to $521.5 million.

Services revenues for the quarter and six-month periods rose by 18 percent and 14 percent, to $256 million and $495.1 million, respectively. Service revenues are comprised of the payroll, human resources and benefits product lines. Payroll service revenue for the quarter and six-month period rose by 17 percent and 13 percent, to $220 million and $425.5 million, respectively.

Poll finds Financial Cos. Need to Take Lead in Battle To Rebuild Trust: While the majority of executives think that trust in financial institutions has eroded to a degree that requires structural change at the regulatory level, they aren’t taking a leadership position on these issues, a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers reported.

The study polled senior executives, fund managers, investment associations, equity analysts, ratings agencies, bankers and insurers in the U.S., Europe and Asia. A copy of the poll is available at .

According to the poll, 60 percent of respondents believe that trust in financial institutions has eroded, and most believe that it has eroded to a degree that requires structural change at the regulatory level and within the institutions themselves. Eighty percent said that failure to improve their own standards of corporate governance would result in a higher cost of capital, more volatile share prices, or investors refusing to buy their stock. Just 2 percent believed that investors wouldn’t penalize them. More than half of the respondents said that the most intense pressure for improved governance is coming from investors and regulators, rather than their own management.

Almost two-thirds of European respondents and more than half of Asian respondents believed that the adoption of a global set of generally accepted accounting standards would materially increase public trust in financial institutions, compared to 33 percent of U.S. respondents.

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