RAYMOND JAMES RAISES AUM MINIMUM FOR NEW ADVISORS

St. Petersburg, Fla. - Raymond James Financial Services is increasing the minimum level of assets under management that it requires new registered investment advisors affiliated with its Investment Advisors Division to hold, from $30 million to $50 million. The company said that the move was aimed at focusing its resources on its existing qualifying advisors and attracting new, higher-level advisors.

Advisors who are good fits but do not meet the minimum asset level may be referred to an existing Raymond James office as an alternative.

Senior vice president Mike Di Girolamo said that some advisors have more than one custodial affiliation, and by encouraging those below the minimum to increase their asset levels, he hopes to make Raymond James their primary custodian.

As an incentive, the firm has re-introduced an Asset Builder Program, which began on Oct. 15 and will run for six months. Under the program, Raymond James will absorb the transaction charges for the first three months or 30 trades, whichever comes first, after an account is open. This applies to new accounts greater than $250,000 brought in. Automated customer account transfer fees of up to $100 will be waived for accounts valued at greater than $500,000.

MANY WORKERS WILL OUTLIVE RETIREMENT SAVINGS

According to the fifth annual Retirement Fitness Survey from Wells Fargo & Co., only 23 percent of pre-retirees are saving more for retirement than they were a year ago. Fifty-seven percent are saving the same amount, and 20 percent are saving less. Sixty-seven percent said that their expectations for retirement have changed in the past year, and 56 percent now expect to work longer by an average of three extra years.Overall, the financial positions and savings habits of this group are insufficient to last for their expected 20-plus years of retirement. While pre-retirees surveyed expect to need $800,000 for retirement, they have saved only $300,000 (median amounts).

INTUIT TO EXPAND IN 401(K), HEALTH INSURANCE MARKET

Mountain View, Calif. - Intuit plans to expand its presence in the market for helping small businesses manage their 401(k) and health insurance benefits, even though many of its own customers do not offer such benefits.

The company has recently started offering insurance services through The Hartford for managing workers' compensation services, and expects to sign up more insurance carriers next year, according to Nora Denzel, senior vice president and general manager of Intuit's Employee Management Solutions. Intuit's payroll division has also begun pilot-testing 401(k) and health insurance services that might be offered separately from payroll.

Intuit has been surveying small-business customers using its payroll services to gauge their perspective on the economy, health insurance and retirement benefits. Eighty-two percent of the 1,004 Intuit Payroll small-business customers surveyed in September said that they see opportunities for their businesses despite the current economic climate. Sixty percent said that they expect their businesses to grow in the next 12 months.

EMPLOYEES STICK WITH WORKPLACE RETIREMENT PLANS

Despite uncertain market conditions over the past year, most Americans who participate in employer-sponsored defined-contribution plans continue to support them, according to a new survey.

The ING Institute for Retirement Research found that 84 percent of the 1,050 investors it polled said that their employer's plan was a "very important" part of their retirement strategy. Approximately 92 percent said that the best way to save was by having their investments automatically deducted from their paycheck.

Other findings demonstrated that investors did not radically change their behavior or abandon the retirement plans. Since the fall of 2008, nearly 40 percent reported joining an employer's plan or increasing their contributions, compared to the less than 30 percent who said that they either decreased or stopped their contributions. While 37 percent said that they had changed to a more conservative asset allocation, 19 percent became more aggressive in their investments.

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