NU Online News Service, Dec. 12, 2003, 1:32 p.m. EST – The typical U.S. employer that hires Fidelity Investments, Boston, to keep records for its defined contribution retirement plan offers employees a matching contribution equal to 5% to 6% of the employee’s contribution, according to a report compiled by Fidelity’s institutional retirement services unit.[@@]

Only 12% of the plan sponsors offer a maximum match of 3% of salary or less, Fidelity says.

But Fidelity says even a small match can have a big effect on plan participation rates.

The average participation rate is 64% at a plan with a 1% match but only 47% at a plan with no match, the company says.

Fidelity also found that sponsors are offering plan participants more investment choices and putting less emphasis on company stock. The share of plans requiring that matching contributions be made in company stock fell to 35% in 2002, from 48% in 2001, Fidelity says.