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Rating:Banc One to Enhance Program Not Rated 0.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Banc One to Enhance Program

Reported by Abigail La Croix

One Group Mutual Funds, the fund arm of Banc One Investment Advisors is prepping plans to enhance its 529-college savings plan, CollegeChoice, in conjunction with the State of Indiana, at the beginning of June. In a related move, the firm is adding a list of external managers to the lineup including, MFS Investments, Franklin Templeton Investments, and Royce Funds.

Additionally, One Group Mutual Funds is adding a dollar-cost averaging component and possibly a stable value option to the plan, said Shawn Alexander, managing director marketing. The catalyst for the enhancement is to provide more flexibility, control, and options within the plan for investors in an increasingly competitive 529 plan marketplace, Alexander said.

Franklin Templeton is slated to offer a large cap growth offering, Royce Funds will provide a small cap option and MFS Investments has been tapped to offer a large cap value and an international product, said Alexander.

Calls to MFS spokesman, John Riley, Franklin Templeton, spokeswoman, Stacey Johnston, and Royce Funds, spokeswoman, Joanne Newgard seeking comment regarding their respective firms' planned participation in the CollegeChoice program were not returned by press time.

One Group Mutual Funds and the State of Indiana initially rolled out the plan early in 2002. At that time it offered an aged-based portfolio and seven static investment options. Current investment offerings include an Equity Index Portfolio, Growth Portfolio, Growth and Income Portfolio, Balanced Portfolio, Conservative Growth Portfolio, Money Market Portfolio and a Bond Portfolio.

Additionally, Banc One began running a debit card pilot program in mid-January in the State of Oklahoma as an additional incentive for participants, said Alexander, noting that the pilot phase culminates in June.

While the firm manages the 529-college savings plan for the State of Indiana, Alexander explained that Banc One wanted to offer the pilot program in neutral territory before offering it to participants in the program-sponsored state to avoid any negative feelings if it is discontinued, adding that it is "a good retention strategy."

Based on the success of the pilot, the firm will look to broaden the program throughout the Banc One franchise and possibly unveil a credit card incentive program as well, she said. A full media blitz incorporating print ads, statement inserts, and a direct mail campaign are expected to accompany the launch of the enhanced 529-college savings plan, said Alexander, declining to elaborate.  

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