The downward pressure on 401(k) and other retirement plan balances over the past few years will mean problems for employers - but especially for the millions of workers who are ill-prepared to fund their retirement.

And that will put the fiduciary role of sponsors and providers in focus, as many people nearing retirement find they have less saved up than they need. Pressure for an entirely new retirement savings system may build as Social Security and 401(k) plans prove inadequate.

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