he rumors circulating around the 401(k) marketplace the past few weeks is that Charles Schwab Retirement Plan Services
is looking to enter an alliance with an independent third-party advice-giver. But who would the firm pick and why?
The rumors also had it that Schwab had either picked Palo Alto, California-headquartered Financial Engines
or was close to doing so.
A Financial Engines spokesperson would only tell the MFWire.com the following: "We have placed a bid at Charles Schwab, and they are in the process of going through due diligence."
"We are in receipt of a proposal from them [Financial Engines] and we've talked to them about their services. But we are talking to a lot of people about advice," a spokesperson with Schwab told the MFWire.com. He did not reveal what other firms were under consideration.
So, right now, it is ambiguous where in the negotiation process Schwab is. But it is clear that Schwab will soon be throwing its hat into the advice arena.
And Financial Engines will be sitting in the proverbial cat-bird seat if it is tapped by the California Colossus. Thus far, the firm has alliances with Merrill Lynch
, State Street Global Advisors
, and America Online
. 1998 was a little slow for the Palo Alto concern. But with Schwab now potentially on its side, Financial Engines could be entering the next century with a bang. Other advice-givers may then have to play catch-up with the strong lead that Financial Engines has built over the year.
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