The tools in the Plan Relationship Excellence Program (PREP) are separated into three categories: plan support, fiduciary fundamentals, and employee communications.
Plan Suppport includes materials advisers can use when they are still helping clients design a plan and implement it, such as the “Defined Contribution Plan Implementation Guide.” This provides a timeline and checklist of the steps they need to take. Once a plan is implemented, tools such as the “Plan in Review Guide” help financial advisers conduct periodic plan assessments.
Fiduciary Fundamentals resources can be used to teach clients about their fiduciary obligations as outlined in ERISA, including a compliance checklist, a guide to investment menu construction and fund selection, and a white paper that provides a detailed explanation of plan policies, fees, and other considerations for plan sponsors and fiduciaries.
And the Employee Communications tools can be used by the employer, in conjunction with the adviser, to help educate employees and boost participation rates.
“The program enables our advisers to equip employers with the tools and guidelines they need to more effectively manage their plans and help their employees prepare for retirement with greater confidence,” said Steve Ulian, Head of Institutional Retirement & Benefit Solutions for Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
PREP builds upon the success of Retirement Plan Advisor Services (RPAS), a practice model and suite of resources and fiduciary tools introduced earlier this year to help Merrill Lynch advisers deliver value-added services to small-business retirement plan clients. Both PREP and RPAS are programs that were developed as a result of the financial adviser designations introduced in December 2009/January 2010 (see “BofA Merrill Introduces Retirement Plan Adviser Designation“). During the next few months, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said it plans to introduce an enhanced service model for financial advisers working with corporate benefit plan sponsors in the large and mega markets.