When 401(k) and other defined contribution plans were first developed, the responsibility for investment decisions was often placed squarely on the shoulders of workers, people who didn't really understand their options and didn't have the skills or time to make good investment decisions.

Because of that, many people would make their asset allocation choices and decide how much money to contribute to each and never look at their plan again.

Equity markets have regained a lot of what they lost in the downturn, restoring 401(k) balances. But many American's finances remain wobbly, and some people in the industry believe the whole notion of retirement is in jeopardy because individuals either don't participate in their workplace retirement plans or they set aside too little money to make a big impact.

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