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Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Boosting 529 Visibility

by: Tony Pennino

A number of firms have joined together to get the word out about the perceived benefits of 529 plans to financial advisors and other intermediaries. Those firms are as follows: Alliance Capital, American Skandia, Manulife, Seligman, and TIAA-CREF.

Most recently, the firms created an advertising supplement that has been inserted into copies of this week's edition of InvestmentNews. The 12 page insert includes advertisements from the five firms. It also includes articles from the following:
  • Timothy Middleton, a freelance author;
  • Thomas Walke, president of the PR firm Walek & Associates;
  • Bill Burrow, senior vice president at Manulife;
  • Dr. Peter Mazareas, ceo of Strategic Advancement Group;
  • Trica Brady, marketing director for education savings products at Skandia;
  • and Michael Lane, director of advisor services at TIAA-CREF.
These articles discuss how to invest in 529 plans and provide advice on how to spot opportunities in such plans for clients.

"This presents financial consultants with a terrific opportunity to grow their business. The high consumer interest makes the 529 plan an excellent prospecting tool, but the best news may be that financial consultants need not go beyond their current book of business to uncover solid prospects. The key, as always, is knowing how to identify prospects," opines Burrow.

With this, the firms are aggressively pursuing the intermediary community. Professionals may feel that it is easier to convince RIAs of the benefits of 529 plans and have them, one-on-one, explain those benefits to clients than to go after investors directly. The supplement is a clear signal of the importance of intermediaries to the success of a firm's college-savings business. 

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