ING's US Retirement Services business has launched a new value-added tool to enhance its GROW Program – a business-building campaign launched earlier in the year for advisors, consultants and the third party administrator (TPA) community serving the small and mid-sized corporate retirement plan market.

The new program enhancement entitled as ‘Cracking the Code’ is a set of practice management strategies to help retirement professionals unlock the business opportunities found in the Form 5500. This form is a detailed annual filing requirement for group retirement plans subject to ERISA, and contains important information on a plan’s financial condition, investments and operations.

Similar to the other tools and resources in the GROW Program, ‘Cracking the Code’ includes actionable sales ideas and guidance that can be leveraged for relationship-building and business growth. It was specifically developed to capitalize on the regulatory changes around the required electronic filing of Form 5500, starting with 2009 plan year data and including the documentation of fees that sponsors must report pursuant to ‘Schedule C’ of the form.

Cracking the Code includes a guide for navigating the various sections of the Form 5500 for sales opportunities, leveraging online reports and web sites to develop business leads, and taking advantage of ING’s resources to drive action.

The sales ideas and opportunities offered in the campaign focus on four specific categories that include plan design, service, education and compliance / fiduciary.

Bill Elmslie, executive vice president of intermediary sales and service for ING US Retirement Services, said: This latest program enhancement builds upon an already robust suite of tools and resources we designed with the advisor, consultant and TPA in mind. Our goal is to help these professionals save precious time and resources by supplementing their own services and supporting their evolving practice needs.

Bob Kaplan, vice president and national training consultant for ING US Retirement Services, said: Tapping the Form 5500 for plan design ideas is one strategy that advisors, consultants and TPAs are finding especially useful. Many employers have not reviewed the design of their plan since its inception. This campaign offers practitioners a chance to sit down with a potential client and review a number of important topics, including how that sponsor might benefit from updating and converting to a new design.