AXA has launched a new solution for the defined contribution (DC) marketplace: AXA Retirement 360, an open architecture DC mutual fund program designed for 401(k), 403(b), 457(b) and 401(a) plans.
AXA Retirement 360 features access to the broad mutual fund marketplace as well as a non-mutual fund option for retirement certainty with the AXA Fixed Account through a group fixed annuity from AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company, which offers principal protection, liquidity and a guaranteed minimum interest rate on savings.
AXA’s streamlined, intuitive website and dedicated team of retirement professionals provide the tools and assistance employers need every step of the way. While a dedicated onboarding specialist manages the plan’s setup and transition via an all-paperless process, plan sponsors and their advisors can track onboarding progress with complete transparency through real-time updates so they always know the status of plans in progress.
Kevin Molloy, head of AXA Retirement Plan Services, based in New York, tells PLANADVISER, “This is quite a bit different from our traditional offering. Traditionally, we have offered a group annuity platform across the different markets we serve. We saw demand for a new kind of experience, and our research targeted specialist advisers, consultants and plan sponsors to identify what was missing.”
Molloy says one major pain point for plan sponsors was with initial onboarding of new plans. “We addressed that by integrating human touch with technology. There is a human hand holding plan sponsors and advisers through the process, a paperless experience with which plan sponsors can complete all documents electronically, and an online tracker to let plan sponsors and advisers follow the progress of the plan setup,” he says. “That, in addition to fiduciary protection, are two real components to meet the needs of plan sponsors.”
The fiduciary protection of which Molloy speaks is powered by Wilshire Associates; plan sponsors can choose either 3(21) or 3(38) fiduciary services. Molloy says AXA has partnered with Wilshire Associates for more than five years now.
For employees, AXA Retirement 360 provides tools and resources, so employees can educate themselves at their own pace, throughout the enrollment process and beyond. They can use a guided, jargon-free enrollment tool and live chat option to make decisions with confidence.
In addition, there is a simple investment selection process, with options to select funds based on employees’ retirement date or risk tolerance, as well as the option for the AXA Fixed Account, tailored for those concerned with principal protection or those who want a degree of retirement certainty.
Molloy explains that the group annuity provides a guaranteed rate of accumulation and interest rate. When participants leave the plan, they can take their balances—the vehicle is liquid just like any other fund option—or they can annuitize the balance in the Fixed Account, which would entail being issued a fixed immediate annuity.
For more information about AXA Retirement 360, please contact your AXA adviser.