Since the financial crisis and Great Recession, 401(k) plans have undergone dramatic shifts. To foster diversification and greater participation, 51% of participants in Fidelity Investments' 401(k) plans are in automatically enrolled plans, up from 16% five years ago, and 73% of the plans use target-date funds as the default, up from 11% in 2006. In the past year, 64% of sponsors changed their investment lineup-up dramatically from 20% in 2008.

Plans are headed for another fundamental shift in 2012. In April, all 401(k) providers will begin disclosing fees to sponsors and investors-putting fees and services under a white-hot spotlight. That's the belief of retirement plan consultancy Verisight.

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