A significant number of advisors who serve 401(k) plans will ramp up their retirement income planning practices over the next few years, according to a new report from Principal Financial, called the “2011 Best Practices in Retirement Income Planning Study.”

The reason: Baby Boomers present a tremendous opportunity.

The study found that 78% plan to spend more time and resources on income planning in the next three years, and 70% said they are or will be investing in their income planning business. Thirty percent are working on developing better tools.

However, the study also found that 34% of advisors are not informed when a participant leaves a plan or retires, which can be an important trigger date for working with those participants on income solutions.

Of those that are informed, 60% said they prefer to have all participants referred to them, but Principal Financial thinks this could be overwhelming. Instead, the firm recommends that advisors ask only for those participants with higher balances, allowing the remaining participants to be served by the plan administrator.

“Retirement income planning is a fast-growing revenue source for many financial professionals,” said Tim Minard, senior vice president of retirement investor services at The Principal. “This study provides valuable insight into best practices for those who want to tap into this vast opportunity—whether they are just getting into income planning or want to improve their current practice.”

-- This article first appeared on Money Management Executive.