Just as they are combing through health plans looking for cost-cutting opportunities, so are employers trimming the fat off employee 401(k) plans. However, in general, they are attempting to do so without sacrificing investment quality. Plans with lower fees have become popular, as have those that offer participants more options, some of which combine lower fees with solid returns.

All of these observations come to us fresh from an Aon Hewitt survey of 400 defined contribution plan sponsors. Their plans cover more than 10 million employees with a total of $500 billion in retirement assets. These sponsors were asked about their retirement benefits strategies, plan designs and investment structures.

When last asked about such matters in 2007, just more than half of the respondents said they were working to reduce fund or plan expenses. This time around, more than three-quarters said they looking for ways to cut such costs.

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