Twenty percent of the nation's 37 million 401(k) plan participants who seek outside investment advice, rely on advice from mutual fund representatives, according to a new study from Spectrem Group of Chicago. That is largely because the majority of plan sponsors, 84 percent, offer no investment advisory services to their employees, according to the study. The results of the study were released by Spectrem Group last week.

Companies surveyed said they refrained from offering advisory services for two reasons. Sponsors were concerned about liability if an employee followed the advice but suffered poor investment results. Also, employers did not want to pay the cost of such services. In instances where participants were offered investment advisory services, the plan sponsor footed the bill 73 percent of the time, the study found.

Twenty-five percent of participants who lacked an employer-sponsored advisor sought advice from a professional advisor. Financial planners were used by 40 percent of these individuals while 18 percent turned to stockbrokers.

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