New AMEX RK System Goes to Client/Server Setup

March 13, 2002 ( - Plan sponsor clients of American Express Retirement Services (AERS) should benefit from its implementation of BlueStar, a new recordkeeping computer system, by faster implementation of new plan features, the company announced.

American Express spokesman Todd Wold said the company is about halfway through moving its 400 small and mid-sized retirement plan clients onto the new system – a process he said the company hopes to finish by the end of the year.

Wold also noted that the impact on existing clients was reduced since the move from one system to the other was scheduled for a weekend, so the company did not have to impose the traditional transactional blackout.

The primary advantage of Bluestar is that it will cut the company’s future system expansion costs enabling AERS to more easily offer new service options, Wold said.

In its press release announcing BlueStar’s unveiling, AERS specified the following client advantages:

  • more efficient addition of new provisions including more investment options,
  • removal of limits on the number of funds,
  • faster data transmission,
  • elimination of duplicate databases, and
  • the ability to upgrade service without interrupting the operation of the whole system

BlueStar differs from a technology perspective because, instead of relying on one central “mainframe” computer to store and process data, it uses a more decentralized “client/server” setup where each desktop computer can operate more independently.

The decentralization allows technology administrators to make targeted changes to one or a group of desktop computers without affecting or interrupting service to other users.
Bluestar’s cornerstone is a central hub that connects to a new recordkeeping engine called WySTAR from PFPC Inc. BlueStar also offers links to the Internet, a telephone voice response unit, a participant statement database, an investment trade settlement database, and other systems.