A new survey by the Investment Company Institute finds that most Americans are still confident that their 401(k) plans can help them reach their retirement goals, but last year's 31% average drop in account balances has also highlighted the need for improvements to this popular, critical retirement vehicle.

Improving education and financial literacy among investors, as well as boosting participation among African American and Hispanic minorities, should be a top priority of the nearly $12 trillion mutual fund industry, said Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Investments.

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