is open: State Street Global Investors
's new 529 plan venture is off and running with its E*Trade
alliance. The on-line venture will be providing the primary retail presence for Schoolhouse's product line.
"They expect good service, good products, a lot of Web access. They expect these things to be a benefit of plan sponsors," said a Schoolhouse spokeswoman.
The Schoolhouse 529 funds, the first multi-managed college savings funds, are specifically designed to mirror 401(k) programs. While this has not been an industry standard, the company is looking forward to future consumer expectations.
In another first, customers will be able to contribute to funds directly from a checking account.
Another key aspect to Schoolhouse's marketing focus is worksite distribution. The company sees 529's standing alongside 401(k) programs as an employee benefit.
"We have set up a system to accomodate for payroll deductions," said Schoolhouse's marketing director Sandra Forcier
Through State Street, Schoolhouse has ready access to distribution to the high net worth market. Furthermore, financical intermediaries can customize the plan to suit customer needs.
While Schoolhouse may be entering the market on the heels of other companies, by providing forward-thinking services, it does not see itself as a Johnny-come-lately.
"It's considered an emerging market," the Schoolhouse spokeswoman said. "One of the things Schoolhouse is attempting to do is offer better options."
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