With pension plans headed for virtual extinction, the 401(k) will inevitably become the sole qualified retirement savings vehicle in the nation, and as such, the defined contribution model must be vastly improved, speakers at the Investment Company Institute's General Membership Meeting in Washington said.

Indeed, a milestone for 401(k)s was reached last week, when consulting firm Watson Wyatt revealed that more than half of Fortune 100 companies now offer only a 401(k) plan, the first time the majority of the nation's 100 biggest companies aren't offering a pension plan.

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