Employees get help with their 401(k)s

Following last year's collapse of Enron Corp., Congress has been considering legislation to reform pension laws. Among the reforms on the table: giving workers more flexibility to sell company stock held in their retirement plans and allowing financial services firms to advise workers on how to allocate their investments.

But a survey released today by global management consultant Towers Perrin suggests that quite a few companies are already giving investment advice to their employees.

One-third of the 122 respondents who participate in an employer-retirement plan said they receive ongoing detailed information from their employer about their retirement accounts; 32 percent said they receive detailed information at enrollment and annually; 24 percent receive basic information as needed. Just 11 percent said they are given no help from their employer.

In cases where advice was not forthcoming, more than three quarters of those polled cited liability concerns as the top reason. Other reasons they said firms hold off on advising employees: Information is already available through the Web and third-party sources (39 percent), the company is unable to afford the cost of providing advice (30 percent), and the company is concerned about its ability to select and monitor the advice provider.

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