Scudder Kemper Investments of Boston has signed a deal with Financial Engines of Palo Alto, Calif., the Internet investment advisor, to provide online investment advice to sponsors of especially mid-sized defined contribution plans. The deal was announced August 2.

Scudder has focused exclusively on mid-sized plan sponsors - those with plans from $5 million to $250 million - whose participants are not getting sufficient third-party advice, according to company officials.

"It has exclusively been done in the large plan or mega-plan market," said Lorie O'Malley, president of Scudder Defined Contribution Services. "We want to be at the forefront of the mid-market."

Scudder, which sells its funds directly to investors, has been actively developing its Internet presence recently, so it is logical that it is now taking advantage of online advice.

The company recently shut down its walk-in retail storefronts across the country, laid off about 100 people, and reorganized its phone operations in preparation for an increased emphasis on its Internet business. Its new web site, with a sophisticated search engine called a Financial Concierge, puts it in the forefront of industry websites.

A number of the largest defined contribution plan providers already offer advice to plan sponsors in collaboration with Financial Engines. A number of other providers offer such advice in collaboration with other companies. Still others provide this advice on their own. Scudder's collaboration with Financial Engines is significant because it is among the first companies to offer the level of advice that Financial Engines provides, to mid-sized plans.

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