"Rich, Mary, Judith, Tony and crew. We can’t thank you enough for your dedication and awesome turn times. Thanks so much."
Kevin Smith, Janus
"OMG! This is fabulous! We really do have quite a tool. Everything worked just dandy both from the PDF and the html... Thank you for being so responsive and so fast. I've worked w/ a lot of vendors and you're among the best."
Melissa Marsh, MFS
"The 529 Calculators just went live on our website and everything looks great. Thank you both for all of your help, I really appreciate it! Have a great weekend and we will talk soon about some of the other calculators."
James Hecht, Bank of America
"Archimedes has been wonderful to work with in customizing your programs to meet Lincoln’s needs. Not only have you delivered an excellent program, but also all versions have been delivered during the time you said they would be delivered, plus for the price you initially quoted.
The programs are very easy to use, and we’re getting a lot of very complimentary comments from our producers.
Most importantly, the program has been very helpful in assisting our participants/clients determine how much they should contribute in order to meet their retirement income goals. Here’s just one of the notes I have received. “I think this program will be of great help to us in the field. It's very simple to use but answers the questions asked every day!
I greatly appreciate the assistance and suggestions you and your team provided during our development discussions. As a result of these discussions, I feel we have an outstanding program."
Loy Fisel, Lincoln Financial
"Our new site went live successfully on Wednesday, and I wanted to personally thank you for all your efforts and support in making this happen. It's been a pleasure working with your team. We've already received some great feedback from some clients and associates who are using the tools."
Maria Bruno, Vanguard
"You're the best. Thanks! I appreciate your help. You should know that I was told the other day that our sales force loves these two calculators."
Jennifer Grady, Columbia Management
"We have been partners for quite some time, and have appreciated all that Archimedes has done for us. You have helped us attain success in our web strategy and recognition on the part of prominent organizations in our industry."
Mark Duncan, Schoolhouse Capital, a division of State Street Bank & Trust Company
"We've now worked together on projects at Shearson, at Lehman Brothers and at Wells Fargo. Your knowledge of financial planning and technology, combined with your insight into the sales process, consistently produces results that are both technically sound and successful in the marketplace. Plus, you are great guys to work with."
Shelley Freeman, Wells Fargo Bank
"The AIM team appreciates all the blood, sweat and tears everyone at Archimedes put into the 401(k) Proposal project. Job well done."
Richard Plessala, AIM Investments
"The project went without one hitch and the compliments regarding the look and feel, design and features of the application were abundant. Thank you for all of your efforts."
Carlos Marin, Ernst & Young International
"Congratulations to Archimedes on the Total Pay Statements -- well done. We hope you're looking forward to working together again next year."
Spencer Kuo, Hewitt Associates
"Thank you for meeting all of our special requests. Your hard work has not gone unappreciated."
David Karl, John Hancock
"Thanks for the extra time you take to understand our business, and for the creative way in which you apply technology to make our business both more efficient and more effective."
Dale Bearden, John Hancock Retirement Services
Our client, an asset management firm in the retirement plans business, uses a pre-printed booklet for 401(k) plan enrollment meetings. The booklet explains the features and benefits of 401(k) plans and is the same for all the firm's clients.
A pocket in the rear of the booklet holds a set of plan information cards customized for each company. These cards identify investment choices and summarize plan features, which vary from plan to plan. There is also an important Enrollment card, on which employees can record their choices before calling the plan's 800 number to enroll.
The client's original system for producing the cards was inefficient. Content was emailed as attached Word documents or Excel templates, which were converted to Quark files. Multiple rounds of editing ensued, it was difficult to track changes and versions, and the process took weeks. On the client side, there was no centralized quality control, which added to the delays due to interactions with the client's Compliance department.
To remedy these problems, Archimedes built a Web-based ordering system supported by a fully automated production system on the back end. The resulting system not only makes customizing the content of the cards easy, but also controls those changes and reflects the way our client's account officers want to work.
Account officers log onto our web site and enter plan information, including name, type of plan, match formula, fund selections, and plan features (eligibility, loan provisions, maximum contribution limits, etc.), and select which cards are required for this client's plan. This process takes just a few minutes. The account officer then submits the order and receives a fully formatted PDF file of the cards in about 60 seconds. After a quick internal review and signoff process, a quick click on an approval button directs us to print and ship the cards in the volumes required. Alternative shipping methods and addresses are provided on the order form.
The client has full control over the list of funds supported, and users with the correct permissions can add, edit, or delete fund information from the web at any time. As soon as the changes or additions are saved, they are immediately available to all users. The client has full control over the list of persons authorized to use the system, and may add or remove login accounts or change user permissions at any time. A complete list of current fund and footnote information can be printed out from the web at any time.
Like almost everyone in the 401(k) business, our client relies on printed proposals to close new business, but found the use of in-house resources to produce proposals time-consuming and inefficient.
Archimedes developed a proposal system that incorporates Web-based ordering, automated production, and real time delivery of proposals in PDF format, with an option for printing, assembling, and delivering proposals in hard copy (in color or black only).
The client specified the text and graphic design of the proposal and updates it as business requirements change. All proposals produced reflect the most recent content the client has provided and approved, and all users of the system have access to the latest material at the same time. No user can alter the proposal with unapproved content, but provisions are made for write-in content.
An on-line input form collects all the data required to produce a proposal. Default values are provided where appropriate, and edit checks prevent a user from submitting incomplete or inconsistent data, providing immediate feedback on which items need fixing.
In terms of content, the eProposal system:
Before a proposal is produced, the user receives a PDF copy for review. Only upon his or her acceptance of the review copy are printed proposals created and shipped as directed on the input form.
This Web-based ordering system allows anytime/anywhere ordering of proposals by home office staff and wholesalers, even by brokers from the field. The sponsor of the system controls who has access and under what conditions. Changes in fee schedules, fund performance and other variables are also automated; the client makes these updates as required. Overrides to fee calculations are a supported feature.
Our client, a 401(k) vendor, produces quarterly and annual Plan Reviews for its clients. The reviews are presented during account officers' client site visits or are sent out in place of an on-site visit. The Quarterly Review books can run 35-80 pages, depending on the number of funds in the client's 401(k) plan and the length of the individual fund summaries, which range from 2 to 5 pages of color charts and tables.
Everyone agrees that these books are a useful client management tool. The issue was the time and effort required to produce them. Most of the data was manually entered into Excel or PowerPoint to produce the charts, and the performance tables were edited by hand to reflect the funds in each plan, along with the benchmark and footnote information for each fund.
The system Archimedes built allows account officers to order quarterly Plan Review books via the Web. The account officer enters a few items of data about the plan, then identifies the funds in the client's plan from a picklist and enters the balance held in each fund investment. The process takes only a few minutes.
Once the order is submitted, a PDF file of the Plan Review is returned to the account officer as an email attachment. This document can be distributed electronically or printed locally. The account officer can optionally request that Archimedes print and ship the books. We have a full service fulfillment shop, where our staff print, assemble with customized cover and tabs, and ship as directed.
Fund performance and benchmark information, along with economic summary information, is supplied to us on a quarterly basis from our client's system. This data is uploaded into our database and is included in the next Plan Review order.
Features that our client values are the ease of ordering, the account officer's time saved, the greatly improved turnaround time for book production, and the added quality control. They also like the system's scalability and our ability to produce printed output in the volumes they require during the quarterly and annual busy periods.
A national benefit communications firm sought a technology/ print fulfillment partner for this comprehensive benefits and enrollment statement project. The firm had designed a benefits statement for Starbucks' work force of 25,000 employees in the US and Canada.
The statement was to incorporate information about current benefits elections, enrollment materials for the following year's flexible benefits program and projections of future values for several retirement and profit-sharing plans. It ranged from 12 to 28 pages in length, with content and layout varying among 10 different employee groups. Data was being provided from nine data sources in four different formats. Timely delivery to multiple locations was a critical requirement, as benefits election deadlines were legally binding on employees.
Archimedes' contribution to the success of this project was on several levels. First, we built the system to produce the statements, implementing the logic to drive all the variable text and calculations for the statement content. Second, we merged, cleaned, reported, corrected and otherwise managed all the employee data from the various sources. Third, we produced the print files to exacting requirements for placement on pre-printed and collated document shells. Despite a large number of document revisions, last-minute changes and late delivery of final data, all deadlines were met, and the statements were both an aesthetic and a practical success. Archimedes was contracted for the following year's statement as well.
At the end of every engagement, we ask clients to provide candid feedback regarding our performance. The results have been most rewarding.
1 = Excellent
2 = Very Good
3 = Acceptable
4 = Poor
Over the past three years, here's how we've been rated:
As you can see, our performance in every category has been viewed as between "Very Good" and "Excellent". When asked if they would recommend us to others, every client said "yes".
We’re proud of these statistics. They underscore our unmatched attention to detail, our state-of-the-art technologies, our deep experience, our overall responsiveness and commitment to excellence.