Prudential Retirement has launched an ongoing series of advisor forums to explore the issues and trends shaping the expectations and needs of its advisors and clients.

The forums-for advisors who work with Prudential-operate as regional focus groups and bring together small groups of advisors to discuss emerging marketplace challenges and solutions that help advisors grow their retirement-planning practices and enhance their reputations as valued intermediaries with retirement-plan sponsors and participants.

The forums culminate each year with an annual Advisor Summit, which brings together Prudential financial advisors from across the country to provide feedback on proposed product-and-service offerings and to work with Prudential Retirement's senior management team to anticipate and address emerging industry trends. The first Prudential Retirement Advisor Summit is set for October in New Orleans.

"According to recent data from the Retirement Services Roundtable, plan sponsors of all sizes-driven primarily by fiduciary concerns-are increasingly looking to intermediaries to assist them with their plan searches. In fact, 90% of all defined contribution plans sold in the U.S. in 2003 employed an intermediary. And over 90% of small employers and 54% of mid-sized employers-the clients traditionally served by financial advisors-relied on commissioned intermediaries for their plan purchases in 2003, a 94% increase in the mid-sized market from 2001," said David Musto, senior vice president, Emerging Corporate Segment, at Prudential Retirement. The Retirement Services Roundtable was launched in 2001 to serve senior pension and retirement executives at financial institutions around the world. Its membership includes insurers, mutual fund companies and banks.

According to Musto, feedback from Prudential Retirement's initial forums has already led the firm to expand and enrich its advisor-focused investment offerings by adding a stable-value product and four new fund options offered by Prudential Investment Management Services LLC, a business of Prudential Financial, based in Newark, N.J. The organization says it has also enhanced its advisor-sold service model, with dedicated service contacts for advisor partners and the requisite subject-matter expertise to address questions, concerns and challenges specific to advisors and their clients.

In addition, Prudential Retirement will soon introduce a Premier Relationship Program for select advisors who are committed to building their retirement practices with Prudential. The program will offer marketing and service assistance, fiduciary support programs, educational seminars and improved access to investment data and analysis. For more information, visit