Magazine article American Banker

Northern Trust Renewing Retirement-Plan Push

Magazine article American Banker

Northern Trust Renewing Retirement-Plan Push

Article excerpt

The demand from corporations for retirement services has never been stronger, and Northern Trust Corp. says it wants a bigger slice of that market.

The Chicago-based banking company was one of the first in the industry to provide corporate clients with more comprehensive employee benefit services, through its 1994 acquisition of Hazelhurst Corp.

But since then, observers say, Northern Trust has been slow to expand the unit's client base and push its products and services.

Adele Langie Heller, director of retirement services for RogersCasey, a Darien, Conn. consulting firm, said, "Hazelhurst has not been marketed aggressively enough - and I don't know why, because they certainly have the talent, the quality, and technology."

The Hazelhurst unit receives fees for providing administrative, record keeping, actuarial, and employee communications services for 401(k), pensions, and other retirement plans, as well as for health and dental plans.

Constance F. Magnuson, senior vice president and director of retirement services, said it has taken Northern Trust two years to plot a strategy, but the company now plans to expand Hazelhurst's client base by pitching the unit's strategic consulting business.

"We all know that the environment for workers has changed dramatically over the past several years, as have the relationships that employees have with their company," Ms. Magnuson said.

She added that "we do see a lot more mobility from the work force, and that changes the type of benefits that people need from their employers."

More of Northern's 350 large and midsize corporate clients are asking for help in educating employees about investing for retirment, or rolling over money over from other qualified plans, such as 401(k) plans.

Employee communication services are also in higher demand because more people are retiring early, and many employers need to coordinate how benefits are dispersed well after someone leaves their employ. …

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