IBM to Help Workers "Get Smart" About Personal Finance

March 8, 2007 ( - IBM will today announce a multi-million dollar personal finance and education benefit program for all its U.S. employees - "IBM MoneySmart."

The program combines in-person educational seminars, online tools and confidential, one-on-one personal planning sessions with independent financial experts. It is designed to help IBMers “get smart” about personal finance by providing them with the guidance they need to plan for a secure retirement, according to a press release – and at no cost to workers, at least for the first two years. The program’s introduction comes as the company transitions from traditional retirement benefits to IBM’s new 401(k) Plus Plan in 2008 (see IBM Beefs Up 401(k), Backs Off DB – Come 2008 ).

IBM is teaming with Fidelity Investments and The Ayco Company, L.P., a Goldman Sachs Company, on this offering. The financial planners of Ayco and financial representatives from Fidelity who serve as MoneySmartCoaches are committed to customer satisfaction and receive no additional compensation for product or service recommendations from their own company versus products or services of any other company.

“No other company that I’m aware of has ever done anything this comprehensive for its employees,” said Randy MacDonald, IBM Senior Vice President, Human Resources. “It combines broad-based financial education with unlimited access to confidential, one-on-one personal financial planning that will help IBMers navigate in a retirement environment where all employees – not just IBMers — have increasing responsibility for managing their own retirement assets.”

The new program is to be launched this month with a series of seminars that will be available live via in-person group meetings at IBM sites nationwide or through interactive Web conferences. Spouses or domestic partners are welcome to attend, accompanied by an employee. It is generally intended that seminars will be held during working hours, with evening offerings for those who work shifts.

Next Phase

The next phase, starting in April, will include unlimited one-on-one counseling over the phone with specially trained Ayco financial planners and Fidelity financial representatives providing personal assistance and guidance to IBMers, according to the press release. A firewalled, protected web portal hosted by Ayco customized for IBMers will provide support throughout and serve initially as the seminar registration center, but over time will provide personalized action lists, store personal financial data, provide self-service tools and serve up downloadable content, according to the firm.

IBM is fully absorbing the fees associated with this program for at least the first two years. At the end of two years, costs will be evaluated again based on business affordability, employee satisfaction and program utilization.