Maybe it's that rugged American individualism. Or maybe it's fallout from watching pensions peter out, Social Security shrivel and the prospects for their golden years begin to look rather glum. More and more workers are choosing individual retirement accounts (IRAs) as their retirement planning tool of choice over 401(k)s and other employer-sponsored defined contribution plans, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

For fund companies hoping to win that business, that means both big opportunities and some marketing challenges.

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