BlackRock, Inc. (NYSE: BLK) announced today that its iShares 529 Plan, managed in partnership with industry leader Upromise Investments, and featuring 28 investment options that financial advisors can use to build effective 529 portfolios for their clients, has received a Silver rating in the annual Morningstar Analyst Ratings for 529 College Savings Plans. According to Morningstar, “Arkansas' iShares 529 Plan is another Silver medalist with inexpensive advisor-sold options. This plan includes only exchange-traded funds, which replicate indexes yet trade like individual stocks. Several other plans also include ETFs, or have plans to add them to their menus, but the iShares line-up is robust and reasonably priced, giving advisors ample choice when constructing custom portfolios for clients.” 1 “As 529 plans play an important role in financial planning, the value of a cost-efficient and quality line-up of investment options becomes even more important. With our plan, advisors have flexibility and diversity of options available for them to invest their clients’ savings, with access to investment options across asset classes,” said Sue Thompson, Head of BlackRock’s Registered Investment Advisor Channel and Head of the iShares Institutional Asset Management Channel. “We know the important role that post-secondary education can play in the lives of American families,” said Dale Ellis, Director with the Arkansas College Savings Plans. “It’s why we do everything in our power to stay progressive in the area of saving for college, and why we value our work with BlackRock and Upromise for their commitment to being on the forefront of college savings.” This is the second time the iShares 529 Plan has earned a Silver Analyst Rating from Morningstar, earning its first in Morningstar’s 2012 ratings of the nation’s largest 529 Plans. As one of only two advisor-sold 529 plans to receive a Silver rating, the iShares 529 Plan stands out in a field of 529 plans, and is viewed positively by Morningstar analysts, as having notable advantages and being likely to outperform its peers on a risk-adjusted basis over time.
About the iShares 529 Plan: The iShares 529 Plan, offered only through advisors, is a nationally available college savings plan, sponsored by the State of Arkansas, which allows families to save and invest funds for higher education in a tax-advantaged account. It is available through financial advisors, and was the first all-ETF 529 plan when launched. With Exchange Traded Funds at its core, the iShares 529 Plan broke ground in the 529 plan arena by featuring attractive benefits, including low costs and transparency. With an average asset-based fee per portfolio of 59 bps, the iShares 529 Plan is one of the lowest cost 529 plans in the marketplace. 2 Arkansas offers a state income tax deduction of up to $5,000 a year ($10,000 for married couples) to families who contribute to an Arkansas-sponsored 529 Plan account. 3 For more information about the iShares 529 Plan, please visit www.ishares529.com .About BlackRock BlackRock is a leader in investment management, risk management and advisory services for institutional and retail clients worldwide. At September 30, 2013, BlackRock’s AUM was $4.096 trillion. BlackRock helps clients meet their goals and overcome challenges with a range of products that include separate accounts, mutual funds, iShares ® (exchange-traded funds), and other pooled investment vehicles. BlackRock also offers risk management, advisory and enterprise investment system services to a broad base of institutional investors through BlackRock Solutions ®. Headquartered in New York City, as of September 30, 2013, the firm had approximately 11,200 employees in 30 countries and a major presence in key global markets, including North and South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East and Africa. For additional information, please visit the Company's website at www.blackrock.com . About iShares iShares is a global product leader in exchange traded funds with over 600 funds globally across equities, fixed income and commodities, which trade on 20 exchanges worldwide. The iShares Funds are bought and sold like common stocks on securities exchanges. The iShares Funds are attractive to many individual and institutional investors and financial intermediaries because of their relative low cost and trading flexibility. Investors can purchase and sell shares through any brokerage firm, financial advisor, or online broker, and hold the funds in any type of brokerage account. The iShares customer base consists of the institutional segment of pension plans and fund managers, as well as the retail segment of financial advisors and high net worth individuals.
Morningstar, Inc.’s Analyst Rating (e.g., Silver Rating) is subjective in nature and should not be used as the sole basis for investment decisions. The Analyst Rating is based on Morningstar analysts’ current expectations about future events and therefore involve unknown risks and uncertainties that may cause Morningstar’s expectations not to occur or to differ significantly from what was expected. Morningstar does not represent its Analyst Ratings to be guarantees nor should they be viewed as a solicitation to invest.The Morningstar Analyst Rating for 529 College-Savings Plans is the summary expression of Morningstar's forward-looking analysis of a 529 plan. Morningstar Analyst Ratings are assigned on a five-tier scale with three positive ratings of Gold, Silver, and Bronze, a Neutral rating, and a Negative rating. If a plan receives a positive rating of Gold, Silver, or Bronze, it means Morningstar analysts think highly of its investment options and expect them to outperform over a full market cycle of at least five years. Morningstar evaluates 529 Plans based on the following five key pillars: Process: Are the strategies sensible and are past successes likely to be repeated? Are the asset-allocation and fund selection for the age-based options based on solid research and implemented well?; Performance: Has the plan delivered strong risk-adjusted performance, and is it likely to continue?, People: Are the managers and researchers directing the plan's investments skilled and well-supported?; Parent: Is the program manager a good caretaker of college savers' capital? Is the state managing the plan professionally?; Price: Are the investment options a good value? For 2013 Morningstar rated 64 529 Plans. iShares received a Silver rating (along with 4 other plans). A Silver Rating indicates the 529 Plan has notable advantages across several, but perhaps not all, of the five pillars-strengths that give the analysts a high level of conviction. For more information about the iShares 529 Plan, contact your financial advisor, call 1-888-529-9552 or visit www.ishares529.com to obtain a Program Description and Participation Agreement which includes investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses and other important information; read and consider it carefully before investing or sending money. Upromise Investments, Inc., Co-Distributor and Underwriter; BlackRock Investments, LLC, Co-Distributor. If you are not an Arkansas taxpayer, consider before investing whether your or the designated beneficiary’s home state offers any state tax or other benefits that are only available for investments in such state's qualified tuition program. The iShares 529 Plan is a college tuition savings program sponsored by the State of Arkansas and is administered by The Arkansas 529 Plan Review Committee (Committee). Upromise Investments, Inc. (UII), and Upromise Investment Advisors, LLC (UIA), serve as the Program Manager and Recordkeeping and Servicing Agent, respectively, with overall responsibility for the day-to-day operations, including marketing and co-distribution of the iShares 529 Plan. BlackRock Investments, LLC, also has responsibility for co-distribution of the iShares 529 Plan. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company, N.A., serves as Investment Manager of the iShares 529 Plan except for the Savings Portfolio, which is managed by Sallie Mae Bank. The iShares 529 Plan’s Portfolios invest in either (i) exchange traded funds; or (ii) a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)-insured omnibus savings account held in trust by the Committee at Sallie Mae Bank. Upromise, Inc., UII, UIA and Sallie Mae Bank are affiliates. Units of the Portfolios are municipal securities, are not exchange traded funds, and the value of units will vary with market conditions.
Investment returns will vary depending on the performance of the Portfolios you choose. Except to the extent of FDIC insurance available for the Savings Portfolio, you could lose all or a portion of your money by investing in the iShares 529 Plan, depending on market conditions. Account Owners assume all investment risks as well as responsibility for any federal and state tax consequences.Investing involves risk, including possible loss of principal. BlackRock Institutional Trust Company, N.A., and BlackRock Investments, LLC, are subsidiaries of BlackRock, Inc., none of which is affiliated with Upromise. © 2013 BlackRock, Inc. Upromise and the Upromise logo are registered servicemarks of Upromise, Inc. iSHARES and BLACKROCK are registered trademarks of BlackRock, Inc., or its subsidiaries. All other marks are the property of their respective owners. Used with permission. 529-0290-1013 1 Fund Spy: Morningstar Names Best 529 College-Savings Plans for 2013, Morningstar, October 22, 2013 2 Source: Financial Research Corporation. 3 Contributions to the Plan in a tax year are deductible from Arkansas state income tax, subject to recapture in subsequent years in which non-qualified withdrawals or a rollover out to another state’s 529 plan is made.