Strong Capital Management
has linked up with American Express Financial Advisors
(AEFA) to add octane to the distribution of the Wisconsin 529 savings program. The two firms are launching a second program for the state. National distribution capabilities play a key role in the deal.
"Nationally the most popular 529 programs are the ones using advisor distribution," Craig Brimhall
, a regional vice president with American Express Financial Advisors, told MutualFundWire.com. The estimate is that advisor sold programs outsell non-advisor sold programs by five to one.
Advest, the existing program in which Strong has been the investment advisor, is limited to residents of Wisconsin. The new program is open to investors nationally. The Wisconsin Office of the State Treasurer administers the program.
By bringing American Express on board, the state program will be distributed the AEFA's network of 12,000 financial advisors. The new product offered by the two firms is the "Tomorrow's Scholar" program. Strong is also the manager for the Oregon 529 program.
"An American Express financial advisor can help take the guesswork out of how to save for college," Brimhall continued. "Tomorrow's Scholar provides great savings, tax benefits, and a selection of investment options that grow savings to fund a child's, grandchild's, niece's, nephew's, or friend's college education."
Tomorrow's Scholar offers will provide mixed Strong and American Express stock, bond, and cash management funds. The plan also offers lower-risk fixed income options, according to the firms. The program went live on May 15, and AEFA advisors are currently in training on both 529's and the Tommorrow's Scholar program.
"529 college savings plans are to education savings what the 401(k) is to retirement savings," said Sarah Henriksen
, Strong's Manager of College Savings Plans.
Savers using the Wisconsin program can use the assets in their account in colleges and universities nationwide.
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