Advisers to 401(k) plans expect automatic enrollment and escalation to be the two most significant developments of defined contribution plans over the next three years, Putnam Investments found through a poll of 82 401(k) advisers.

The poll also found that while 75% of their clients said that they plan to add an automatic enrollment feature within the next two years, two-thirds nonetheless have reservations about it, for fear of the added cost of matching contributions.

“Our 401(k) advisers strongly agree that auto features will be one of the dominant drivers of increased retirement savings,” said David Tyrie, managing director and director of retirement services at Putnam. “But the hurdle of perceived added program costs means that many plan sponsors will not provide these features to their employees.”

The survey also found that advisers are recommending a broad array of default options, with the three most popular choices being target-date funds (recommended by 80% of advisers), target-risk funds (63%) and balanced mutual funds (60%).

Further, respondents said that open architecture is key, and 50% said they serve as fiduciaries to the plans they manage.

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