Amidst the tremendous worries and uncertainty surrounding retirement advice, Merrill Lynch of New York is offering an alternative solution with the launch of AdviceAccess, personalized investment advice for individuals in retirement plans. Mark Feuer, a first VP with Merrill Lynch Retirement Group, told reporters on a conference call that the service will "finally answer the question: How should I invest?'"

AdviceAccess seeks to lessen the legwork for individuals by enabling them to tap into advice by their preferred method of contact, whether that's via phone, the Web or in-person consultations. The firm found a dearth in this kind of service and a desire for it after conducting its 2002 Merrill Lynch Retirement Survey. The survey found that 44% of Americans were more likely to seek professional help for their retirement portfolios after the economic downturn began. Merrill also learned that more than half of working Americans mistakenly think that their 401(k) is guaranteed by the federal government.

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