Lord Abbett & Company L.L.C. has agreed to encourage small employers that use its 401(k) plan services to shift to Hartford Financial Services Group Inc.

Lord Abbett, Jersey City, N.J., now manages about 8,000 bundled small 401(k) plans with a total of about 59,000 participants and $1.2 billion in plan assets, according to Hartford Financial, Hartford.

“The process to transfer many of these plans will begin immediately,” Hartford says.

Hartford “views its retirement plan business as a significant growth opportunity, and we are actively looking to expand our presence in the marketplace,” Jim Davey, an executive vice president at Hartford, says in a statement.

To ease the transition, Hartford will be waiving many fees for Lord Abbett plan sponsors and participants that make the shift.

Hartford will be waiving contingent deferred sales charges on A and C share plans, plan termination fees, and 2010 billing fees for plans that submit account opening paperwork by April 1, 2010.

Hartford will be offering the Lord Abbett clients its Aviator 401(k) program plans. Those plans come with the services of an independent co-fiduciary service bundled in.