If Ted Benna, the originator of the concept of 401(k)'s, has his way, 401(k)'s could become completely flexible, portable, and participant-directed within the next ten years.

Benna, president of the 401(k) Association, an advocacy organization in Bellefonte, Pa., is discussing with the U.S. Departments of Labor and the Treasury transferring 401(k) sponsorship from employers to independent, third-party investment advisory firms. In doing so, 401(k) plan participants would be able to choose whatever type of investment they wanted - including individual stocks - and carry those investments with them no matter where they worked, or did not work.

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