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Schwab Plays Mr. Fix-it to 401(k)s


Charles Schwab of San Francisco couldn't have asked for better timing as it relates to Enron's unfortunate meltdown.

Since last fall, Schwab has been working on a new program it rolled out in late in January 2002. The program, called the Schwab 401(k) Checkup, offers Schwab clients and non-clients a free assessment of their 401(k) plan to determine if an individual has his or her plan's assets appropriately allocated according to their personal risk tolerance.

The complimentary assessment can also spot an over concentration in one security or even within a sector, said Morrison Shafroth, a Schwab spokesperson. The complimentary 401(k) plan checkup is available via phone, Schwab's Web site or through a Schwab investor center, he said.

Individuals are asked to complete a seven-question risk profile, and provide information about their plan holdings. A Schwab representative can then provide a three-page customized retirement plan analysis that includes suggested asset allocations and potential red flags, Shafroth said.

The program's launch was "coincidental" with Enron's 401(k) plan problems, rather than "opportunistic," said Shafroth. "The program is about getting people to look at their 401(k)s."

Many workers have turned their attentions to reassessing their 401(k) plan allocations on the heels of Enron's 401(k) plan debacle. Many of Enron's employees owned a significant amount of their employer's corporate stock within their retirement plan. After Enron's bankruptcy filing in December, those shares may eventually emerge as having little or no value for plan participants.