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MassMutual Offers Calculator with Memory

MassMutual Retirement Services of Springfield, Mass., has revamped its web site with a sophisticated calculator for its defined contribution and defined benefit customers. The calculator automatically lifts information on client accounts out of various MassMutual records into an analytical engine capable of processing various scenarios for a shareholder's retirement. Also, the calculator stores whatever new information the customer supplies to it. The calculator can even automatically re-balance a shareholder's portfolio.

Many mutual funds' retirement services divisions have published calculators, or have even posted them on-line on their web sites. But unlike MassMutual's calculator, called The Journey, these are static tools into which investors must manually supply data. And they cannot recalculate projections based on changes in status such as income, retirement age and company match levels as The Journey can.

MassMutual's calculator takes client information the firm already has on record and automatically imports it into a Sybase relational database engine so that customers do not have to, said Marty McDonough, a MassMutual spokesperson. The Journey also integrates all of the information from existing retirement planning tools such as account balance information and retirement benefit projections.

The end result is an engine capable of giving customers various portfolio and asset allocation scenarios based on their particular retirement account.

It's "actionable," "tangible" information, McDonough said. MassMutual also hopes The Journey will prove a useful tool for sponsors, to help them answer more than rudimentary questions and become true consultants.

It took MassMutual's software programmers 250,000 hours over more than a year with 1.5 million lines of code to develop the calculator, said McDonough.

David Wray, president of The Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America, called The Journey "an innovative and excellent" service "because it walks people through planning for retirement." The Profit Sharing Council, based in Chicago, is a non-profit trade organization of sponsors of 401(k) plans.

"The 401(k) marketplace has become very competitive and one of the ways mutual fund companies are competing right now is with technology-supported services," said Wray. "Companies need to give their employees a number of different tools to help them through the planning and decision process for their retirement. The more tools, the better, so having this additional Journey tool is a good thing."

McDonough says his company has tried to be, "good at providing personal information on a mass scale."

MassMutual has more than 400,000 defined contribution and defined benefit customers and $175 billion of assets under management. It is the parent company of Oppenheimer and David Babson & Co.