Despite the volatile markets of late 2008 and early 2009, investor participation remains fairly stable, according to a review of retirement markets by Dublin-based Research and Markets.

"Participant activity over the past 12 months has remained remarkably stable in market conditions unprecedented since at least the dawn of the 401(k) era," the report said. "Participants, however, have actively reduced their exposure to equities."

The authors of the report suggest this risk reduction may be temporary, although, "it may prove to be a more durable shift with implications for participants' ability to achieve a secure retirement and for retirement service providers' investment platform and revenue models."

Ninety-four percent of plan sponsors continue to provide some form of match, essentially unchanged from 2003, and only 3% had eliminated their match in the past year, according to a "World at Work" survey completed in March.

The retirement report also says that the adoption of automatic plan features to 401(k) plans has slowed considerably and the momentum of target-date funds may have crested.

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