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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Hartford's 529 College Savings Program Hits Milestone

News summary by MFWire's editors

The Hartford's SMART529 College Savings Program has surpassed $1 billion in assets under management. The milestone comes at a fortuitous time as the program has just had its fifth anniversary. The program, which is sponsored by the State of West Virginia, was launched in March of 2002 and has steadily increased in size.

The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE: HIG) today announced that the SMART529® College Savings Program has surpassed $1 billion in assets under management, an achievement that coincides with the program’s fifth anniversary. SMART529 program growth has been driven by high-quality products and educational materials that focus on encouraging families to save for college. The program, which is sponsored by the State of West Virginia, was launched in March of 2002 and has steadily increased in size. In fact, in the last 18 months, assets have nearly doubled to reach the $1 billion milestone.

This milestone comes at a turning point for the young and growing 529 industry as well as for The Hartford. “Reaching the billion dollar mark in assets is an important step for us and reflects a coming-of-age for the 529 industry,” said Jeff Coghan, director of SMART529 Programs at The Hartford. “More families are seeing the benefit of saving for college in a tax-advantaged way and providers such as The Hartford are fine-tuning their offerings.”

The program’s service options, tools and support help make it easy for families to save, while targeted outreach and education have driven awareness and adoption. Age-based, also known as ‘target-date,’ funds are an effective and popular way for families to save for college and have served as the program’s foundation. About half of The Hartford’s $1 billion total 529 assets are allocated to age-based portfolios, indicating that these time-bound and investor-friendly funds are particularly well-suited for college savings. The growth of the 529 industry has also spurred more educational efforts by providers for consumers and financial professionals alike. For its part, The Hartford launched its Just Ask! educational program to encourage financial professionals to ask their clients about college savings.

John Walters, president of The Hartford’s U.S. Wealth Management Group, views the growth of the 529 business as a critical part of the firm’s overall growth strategy. “In five years, we have built a 529 program organically that follows in the footsteps of our highly successful mutual fund family, which just celebrated its ten-year anniversary and is over $40 billion in total assets. Given the need for families to save for college and our flexible suite of 529 offerings, we expect our program to continue growing at a robust pace.”

As a strong advocate for helping families save for college, the State of West Virginia plays a central role in driving the growth of the SMART529 program. "We are very pleased that our program is helping so many thousands of families save for college," said West Virginia State Treasurer John D. Perdue, who chairs the program board of trustees, "and we look forward to its continued growth." SMART529 is a qualified tuition program of the West Virginia Prepaid College Tuition and Savings Program Board of Trustees and administered by Hartford Life Insurance Company. For more information about SMART529, please visit www.hartfordinvestor.com or contact your financial advisor.

The Hartford, a Fortune 100 company, is one of the nation's largest financial services and insurance companies, with 2006 revenues of $26.5 billion. The Hartford is a leading provider of investment products, life insurance and group benefits; automobile and homeowners products; and business property and casualty insurance. International operations are located in Japan, Brazil and the United Kingdom. The Hartford's Internet address is www.thehartford.com.


Some of the statements in this release may be considered forward-looking statements as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These include statements about our future results of operations. We caution investors that these forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance, and actual results may differ materially. Investors should consider the important risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ. These important risks and uncertainties include, without limitation, those discussed in our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, our 2006 Annual Report on Form 10-K and the other filings we make with the Securities and Exchange Commission. We assume no obligation to update this release, which speaks as of the date issued.

You should carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses of SMART529 and its Underlying Funds before investing. This and other information can be found in the offering statement for SMART529 and the prospectus or other disclosure documents for the Underlying Funds, which can be obtained from your investment representative or by calling 866-574-3542. Please read them carefully before you invest or send money. SMART529 is distributed by Hartford Securities Distribution Company, Inc. Member SIPC.

If you reside or have taxable income in a state other than West Virginia, you should consider whether your state has a qualified tuition program that offers favorable state income tax or other benefits exclusively to your state’s program that are not available under the SMART529 program. Taxpayers and residents of other states who are interested in exploring such tax consequences should consult with a qualified tax advisor.

This information is written in connection with the promotion or marketing of the matter(s) addressed in this material. The information cannot be used or relied upon for the purpose of avoiding IRS penalties. These materials are not intended to provide tax, accounting or legal advice. As with all matters of a tax or legal nature, you should consult your own tax or legal counsel for advice.

SMART529 is a program of the Board of Trustees of the West Virginia College Prepaid Tuition and Savings Program, State Treasurer John Perdue, Chairman. The Board has selected Hartford Life Insurance Company to provide program management services for SMART529.

“The Hartford" is The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. and its subsidiaries. 

Edited by: Erin Kello

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