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Monday, November 22, 1999

New CEO at 401kForum

Reported by Tony Pennino

It never seems like there's a quiet day for the independent advice-givers. One of the firms in that pack always has some news that needs reporting. The latest to get our attention is 401kForum.

It was at a bash in San Francisco last week -- where entertainment duties were handled by none other than Cirque du Soleil -- that the company announced a slew of new changes.
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First, the firm that owned 401kForum, Emergent Advisors, has changed its name to mPower.

"The name of 401kForum was recognizable to those in the industry," David Peckman, vice president of marketing, told the 401kWire.com. "We felt we needed to have a name that addressed a broader audience and spoke to a larger product line. Our new name suggests the ability to empower individuals to make smart investment decisions. And the "M" stands for the power of money."

Additionally, a new chairman and chief executive officer has been tapped to head up mPower. He is Dennis Chookaszian, formerly ceo and chairman of CMA Insurance. Drake Mosier, founder and former chairman, will hold the post of vice-chairman and sit on the board of directors. "He will be focusing on areas of the company where he can bring the most value. He and Dennis will be working side-by-side," Peckman reported.

Chookaszian joins the team on November 29, 1999. "He wanted one more management opportunity in his career. And he wanted to join the online financial services community," the official added.

And finally, the firm has made some functional enhancements to its 401(k) advisory software, designated as version 4.0.

"We have alpha tested it. We have beta tested it. We have consumer tested it. We will implement the new software for clients at the end of this month. It will go live in January. All current clients get upgraded. Version 4.0 includes a number of new features including optional risk assessment modeling and portfolio simulation modeling. These functions are for those folks who want to dig deeper into their portfolio," Peckman stated. Forum's current clients include the 401(k) plans of Dole, Fujitsu, and Southwest Airlines' Pilots Association among others.

The new Version 4.0 also allows participants to take a deeper look at assets outside of their 401(k) plans. "We are providing additional guidance in that realm. When you look at someone's overall asset mix, there are two ways of looking at that. You can either freeze the outside assets and bring them in line with the 401(k) plan or you can bring the two together and provide the best asset allocation for all investments. We provide both ways of looking at those investments," he contended.

According to 401kForum, the navigation on its system has been refined as well. With version 4.0, the firm intends to pursue other kinds of retirement plans such as 403(b)'s and 457 plans. "We can now look at retirement holistically," Peckman concluded. 

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