A consulting firm is promoting retirement plans that give employees just a limited amount of control over investment strategy.[@@]

Mercer Human Resource Consulting, New York, says its new Retirement Shares Plan combines features of a defined benefit pension plan and a defined contribution retirement plan.

A typical plan provides retirement benefit funding equal to 1% of each eligible employee’s pay each year, then gives each employee a chance to use the 1% of pay to invest either in stable-value shares or stock shares, Mercer says.

The plan design gives employees some control over the amount of investment risk they are willing to assume while leaving responsibility for investment selection in the hands of the plan managers, Mercer says.

Because the employer funds the benefits earned by each participant each year, the plan stays fully funded, Mercer says.

A Retirement Share Plan can accept transfers from 401(k) plans, but it probably will produce retirement benefits comparable to those provided by a defined benefit plan, Mercer says.

Mercer is a unit of Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc., New York.