Charles Schwab Launches 401(k) Plan Solution

January 10, 2012 ( - Schwab Retirement Plan Services Inc. launched Schwab Index Advantage, a 401(k) plan offer designed to lower costs, simplify investing and help workers better prepare for retirement. 

The program is focused on simplicity and includes a independent advisory service that develops a savings and investment program with the goal of increasing savings for individuals at retirement.

To help drive costs down, Schwab Index Advantage provides index mutual funds with low operating expenses.  

“It’s time to rethink the 401(k) plan and pay closer attention to workers who, now more than ever, are worried about their retirement savings, are often confused by their plan’s complexity and may be missing out on the help they need to save and invest for retirement,” said Jim McCool, executive vice president and head of Institutional Services at Schwab.

The program also includes an interest-bearing, FDIC-insured savings feature through Schwab Bank called Schwab Bank Savings that serves as a capital preservation option in an employee’s 401(k) account.

With Schwab Index Advantage, employers, fiduciaries and their consultants will be able to create a 401(k) investment fund lineup comprised exclusively of index mutual funds with low operating expenses, including Schwab funds, as well as funds from other large, well-known fund providers. These funds are designed to track established market indexes and represent a range of equity sizes, styles and geographies, as well as fixed-income and other asset classes.

Schwab is also developing a version of Schwab Index Advantage that will use only index-based exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in the investment lineup so employers will ultimately have a choice between index mutual funds or ETFs.

Another design component to Schwab Index Advantage is Schwab Retirement Planner, which will offer low-cost, independent, professional asset allocation services based on employee information.

GuidedChoice Asset Management Inc. (GuidedChoice) will provide the third-party advice and account management service.

Employees will be enrolled into the new managed account advisory service and receive ongoing investment guidance based on a variety of factors including age, income, account balance and savings rate in their 401(k) plan.

In addition, Schwab Retirement Planner will include a personal retirement-readiness score for employees. The calculation will consider multiple factors and show employees their projected monthly retirement income to help them identify savings gaps and the steps they can take to stay on track.

Employees who prefer to manage their account themselves can do so at any time using either the index funds provided under the plan, or by opening a self-directed brokerage account (SDBA) if their employer offers this feature through their 401(k) plan. Schwab’s SDBA offering – the Schwab Personal Choice Retirement Account – provides access to thousands of mutual funds (both active and index), as well as ETFs.