November 11, 2016
On June 20, 2016, the Office of the Illinois State Treasurer (“Treasurer”) released a Request for Information (“RFI”) regarding the future structure and management of the Bright Start Advisor and Bright Directions advisor-sold 529 college savings programs. Responses to the RFI have assisted the Treasurer in its evaluation of the merits of continuing to offer two separately branded advisor plans. As a result of a comprehensive analysis conducted by the Treasurer and the Treasurer’s consultants, the Treasurer has decided to merge Bright Start Advisor and Bright Directions into a single advisor plan under the Bright Directions brand (hereinafter collectively referred to as “Bright Directions”).
The Treasurer is issuing this Request for Proposals (“RFP”) for record keepers, investment management firms, financial services firms with specific experience, or similar businesses to serve as the program manager for Bright Directions (“Contractor” or “Program Manager”). Bright Directions is administered by the Treasurer pursuant to Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (“Section 529” and the “Code”, respectively), and the Illinois State Treasurer’s Act (15 ILCS 505/16.5) (“Act”).
The Treasurer seeks a Program Manager that will service Bright Directions, with the overall goal of providing an advisor-sold plan that will be recognized as one of the best in the country based on the quality of the underlying funds, the breadth of investment options offered, and low fees. Currently, Bright Directions is one of only two “Silver-rated” advisor plans rated by Morningstar. The Treasurer intends on selecting a Program Manager with the expertise and ability to:
Facilitate the successful consolidation of Bright Start Advisor and Bright Directions;
Offer new and existing plan participants a wide variety of investment options capable of matching returns consistent with each participant’s risk tolerance and objectives; and
Provide exemplary customer communications and service.
The Treasurer intends to execute a program management agreement (“Agreement”) for an initial term that is expected to commence on July 20, 2017, and run for a period of 5 to 10 years.
Currently, the Illinois College Savings Pool (“Pool”) for which the Treasurer serves as Administrator and Trustee includes Bright Directions, Bright Start Direct, and Bright Start Advisor College Savings Plans, which are described in Section II below. On September 14, 2016, the Treasurer issued a program management RFP for Bright Start Direct (the “Direct Plan”). This RFP for Bright Directions should not be construed as a request for bids on the Direct Plan.
Service providers (“Respondents”) must submit their responses to this RFP (“Responses”) by 2:00 p.m. CT on December 9, 2016.