Retirement nest eggs are climbing back after suffering through the recession.

Assets held in retirement accounts rose 18% from a year earlier to $9.3 trillion as of Dec. 31, according to Spectrem Group, a Chicago-based company.

Assets held in defined contribution plans, which include 401(k) plans, rose 19% to $4.5 trillion from a year earlier. As a percentage of all retirement assets, these plans held steady at 49%. By themselves, 401(k) plans, which account for 71% of all defined contribution assets, rose 20% to $2.3 trillion from a year earlier.

"The retirement market bounced back in 2009, recovering nearly all of the recession-driven losses of the previous year,” said Gerald O’Connor, a director at Spectrem. “However, the number of plan participants seeking advice on how to invest their retirement funds has more than doubled since 2008, suggesting some lingering uncertainty.”

The number of participants saying they would like more advice and assistance with investment decisions rose to 58%, from 26% a year earlier.

Spectrem released its annual report on Tuesday.

More companies are introducing tools that offer retirement planning advice. In 2003, Merrill Lynch introduced Advice Access, which specifically recommends saving and investment options to employees. According to Kevin Crain, the head of institutional client relationships for BofA Merrill Lynch, employees that are properly saving for retirement are using the advice tools. “Advice is critical,” he said.

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