Automatic enrollment and automatic escalation will be the two most significant developments of defined contribution plans over the next three years, according to 401(k) plan advisers polled by Putnam Investments.

If even just the 66% of employers that Wells Fargo projects adopt automatic enrollment by the end of 2008, that could boost the current $4.07 trillion in DC plans by as much as an additional $90 billion, or 2%, a year. If Spectrem Group's expected 75% of employers combine auto enroll with the power of auto escalation of contribution rates-raising the current average of 3.9% of an employee's salary to 7% or more-that could possibly double those flows.

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