The investment-only side to the 401(k) business has caught the attention of one of that channel's largest recordkeepers, ING Investment Management
. Andy Simonoff
is taking strides to formally build out ING's DC I-O shop, not only making three recent hires
, but also pushing target date funds and value-add content to set it apart from the competition.
Though ING IM has maintained a presence in the space over the years, defined contribution is becoming an area of greater emphasis and priority for the firm.
"This is a buildout on top of a base we already have," Simonoff, senior vice president and head of product management, said in a phone interview with MFWire
. "The way we manage money is really aligned with [the DC] space, and we've got some long track records in the way we do that."
Simonoff stressed the prominence of target-date funds among ING IM's offerings, pointing out that of $28 billion in DC plan assets, $6 billion are in target dates. He especially emphasized his shop's "very unique" approach to constructing target-date products.
For one thing, ING IM's target-date funds utilize open-architecture structure, selecting the "best of best" in terms of the managers and investments offered. Simonoff stressed the growing popularity of custom target dates, citing a trend among bigger plans to build their own target-date products.
Funds also blend actively and passively managed funds in order to balance return potential and achieve returns at a reasonable cost. They manage glide paths to -- and not through -- retirement, stressing wealth accumulation early on in an individual's career.
"Target date is such an important part of this space," Simonoff said. "We are very active and are very capable in that space."
Meanwhile, new marketing program manager Ron Dietrich
has been recruited specifically to build out ING IM's value-add content, Simonoff said. One example of such content is VP and industry expert Bob Kaplan
's online "Ask Bob," which leverages Kaplan's insider knowledge about retirement plans and fee disclosures. Simonoff hopes that such tools will emphasize ING's DC expertise and open communication with DC sponsors and advisors.
"Value-add programs are increasingly a distinguishing feature in the marketplace," Simonoff said. "We're in a unique standpoint to understand the defined contribution market from an investing viewpoint, and we can build out our value-add by helping advisors really understand the needs of their plan sponsors and participants through a variety of programs."
ING has sales teams for both intermediary and institutional sales.
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