Wells Fargo was one of the first to offer target date funds more than a decade ago in 1994, previously called the Wells Fargo Advantage Outlook FundsSM. Target date or "lifecycle" funds are designed as an all-in-one solution so that investors can "set it and forget it"-the funds gradually grow more conservative as the target retirement date indicated in the fund's name approaches. "Target date funds are one of the simplest yet most effective ways for 401(k) investors seeking to achieve diversification, automatic asset allocation management, and ongoing rebalancing in a single investment option," said Doug Murray, senior vice president of client delivery services for Wells Fargo Institutional Trust Services.
"Too many 401(k) investors are so overwhelmed when asked to put together a diversified portfolio from an extensive lineup of investment options that they often end up with less than ideal asset allocations, or worse yet, don't even enroll in the plan," said Murray. "Target date funds make the process simple. We believe that increased use of target date funds will help more of America's workforce get on the road towards retirement readiness."
The Dow Jones Target Date Indexes, which the new sub-advisor for the Funds, Global Index Advisors, helped create, are unique in that they use a methodology that is designed to measure an index's overall equity-risk component, rather than focusing on just the exposure to equities in general. This enables the Funds to manage the overall risk while still seeking to capture much of the upside return potential of the equities market.
"The launch of our target date funds in 1994 was based on the premise that an appropriate, age-based asset allocation strategy could serve as a valuable tool to help clients reach their investment goals. With the introduction of an advanced methodology to the funds' allocation strategy, we believe we are improving on that foundation by offering shareholders both a more sophisticated investment approach and broader diversification," said Andrew Owen, senior vice president of investments for Wells Fargo Funds Management, LLC.
With the new structure the Funds now invest in stock, bond and cash portfolios that in turn invest in 14 distinct sub-asset classes: a stock portfolio benchmarked to an equal weighting of 9 Dow Jones domestic and international equity indexes, a bond portfolio benchmarked to an equal weighting of 4 Lehman Brothers bond indexes, and a cash allocation make up each Fund. This structure will provide greater diversification for the Funds as it results in meaningful exposure to additional asset classes such as emerging markets, foreign bonds, and small and mid cap stocks. The exposure to these additional asset classes will continue throughout the life of the Funds, providing the opportunity for additional return potential within each portfolio. In addition, this use of distinct index-based components ensures that the Funds' underlying investments will not overlap each other by holding the same securities.
The Wells Fargo Advantage Dow Jones Target Date Funds will also be benchmarked against the Dow Jones Target Date Indexes, which were introduced in April 2005. "The Dow Jones Target Date Index series is the first to benchmark 'lifecycle' funds, with risk profiles that become more conservative over time," said Michael Petronella, president of Dow Jones Indexes. "Wells Fargo's adoption of these transparent and rules-driven indexes for their funds is validating our pioneering efforts in this index space."
Target date funds have proven appealing for 401(k) plans, with as many as 63% of plans offering them or other pre-mixed asset allocation options to investors.1 In fact, assets in target date funds grew by 60% in 2005 alone to more than $70 billion.2 "We are excited to offer our retirement plan clients these significantly enhanced funds as we believe they will allow employers the opportunity to offer a best-of-breed option in target date funds to their employees," said Murray.
About Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo & Company is a diversified financial services company with $492 billion in assets, providing banking, insurance, investments, mortgage and consumer finance to more than 23 million customers from more than 6,200 stores and the Internet (wellsfargo.com) across North America and elsewhere internationally (as of 3/31/06).
Wells Fargo Funds Management, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Wells Fargo & Company, offers investment solutions for individual and institutional investors. Through its Wells Fargo Advantage Funds®, the firm offers 120 mutual funds across a wide range of asset classes representing more than $111 billion in assets under management, as of 3-31-06. To help investors plan for the future, Wells Fargo Funds Management offers 529 Plans, IRAs, and, through its Wells Fargo AdvisorSM program, portfolio management services. The firm also offers customized investment solutions through Wells Fargo Managed Account Services, which is a program of professionally managed portfolios consisting of individual securities.
Wells Fargo Institutional Trust Services (ITS) is a national leader in providing investment solutions, total retirement management, trust and custody solutions, and benefits consulting for institutional clients. ITS offers personalized, local service to more than 5,000 clients and 1.4 million participants across the country (as of 3/31/06).
About Dow Jones Indexes
Dow Jones Indexes is part of Dow Jones & Company, which publishes the world's most vital business and financial news and information. Dow Jones Indexes is a premier global provider of investable indexes, including the Dow Jones Averages and the Dow Jones Global, Regional, Country and Sector Titans Indexes and is co-owner of the Pan-European Dow Jones STOXX Indexes. Together with Wilshire Associates, Dow Jones Indexes markets and licenses the Dow Jones Wilshire index family, which includes the Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 and its size, style, and sector indexes. Dow Jones Indexes also offers a number of specialty indexes including hedge fund, commodity and credit derivative indexes.
In addition to Dow Jones Indexes, Dow Jones & Company (NYSE: DJ; dowjones.com) publishes The Wall Street Journal and its international and online editions, Barron's and the Far Eastern Economic Review, Dow Jones Newswires, MarketWatch and the Ottaway group of community newspapers. Dow Jones is co-owner with Reuters Group of Factiva and with Hearst of SmartMoney. Dow Jones also provides news content to CNBC and radio stations in the U.S.
"Dow Jones" and "Dow Jones Target Date IndexesSM are service marks of Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use for certain purposes by Global Index Advisors, Inc., and Wells Fargo Funds Management, LLC. The Wells Fargo Advantage Dow Jones Target Date Funds based on the Dow Jones Target Date IndexesSM are not sponsored, endorsed, sold or promoted by Dow Jones, and Dow Jones makes no representation regarding the advisability of investing in the Fund(s).
Balanced funds may invest in stocks and bonds. Stocks should only be considered for long-term goals as values fluctuate in response to the activities of individual companies and general market and economic conditions. Bond values fluctuate in response to the financial condition of individual issuers, general market and economic conditions, and changes in interest rates. In general, when interest rates rise, bond values fall and investors may lose principal value. Investment strategies that emphasize particular market segments or fewer securities tend to increase the total risk of an investment (relative to the broader market). These funds are exposed to Foreign Investments Risk, Small Cap Risk, and Mid Cap Risk. Consult the Fund's prospectus for additional information on these and other risks.
Asset allocation and diversification do not assure or guarantee better performance and cannot eliminate the risk of investment losses.
1 According to Hewitt Associates as reported in Employee Benefit News magazine, January 2006
2 According to Financial Research Corporation