Although mutual funds can surely stake their claim to the lion's share of 401(k) plan assets, and exchange-traded funds have been the popular up-and-comers, separately managed accounts may soon be able to carve out a heftier piece of the 401(k) pie.

This past September, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued rules that clarified a provision of the Pension Protection Act of 2006 that allows 401(k) plan sponsors to automatically enroll new employees into their firm's defined contribution plans (see MME 11/20/06).

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