Dreyfus Retirement Services is offering help to large companies that want to cut down on the cost of managing retirement accounts and disseminating information to their employees.

The unit of Mellon Bank Corp., has started a "benefits outsourcing" service that is sold along with defined contribution plans, like 401(k) retirement plans.

As part of the service, Dreyfus can set up special telephone lines or put representatives on-site at companies to answer questions and help employees with retirement planning. Right now, at many corporations those responsibilities are handled by human resources departments.

Robert J. Stone, executive vice president in charge of sales and marketing for Dreyfus Retirement Services, says companies will hire Dreyfus to field questions and handle paperwork for less money than a salaried human resources officer.

"Now most companies are, at a minimum, asking about how they can save money in these areas" by bringing in outside firms to handle inquiries and provide advice, he said.

RogersCasey, a Darien, Conn., consulting firm, surveyed 450 corporations this year and found that roughly a third wanted to outsource not only retirement plan administration, but also health and welfare benefits.

"Larger corporations are forcing the vendors in this direction and the idea is to outsource all employee benefits," said Adele Langie Heller, associate director of defined contribution services for RogersCasey.

She added that it takes a great deal of capital investment to offer a complete employee benefits package, and that Dreyfus may have a tough time adding employee health and welfare components to its service.

Mr. Stone said Dreyfus' benefit outsourcing is still developing and that the company is looking at ways cut costs and offer more value.

Dreyfus' service is offered as part of the 401(k) retirement plans Dreyfus markets to corporations, and is part of a larger push by Mellon to become a top provider of retirement plans to corporate clients.

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