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MassMutual: 401(k) Participants Optimistic

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A Northeastern insurer says most participants in the 401(k) plans it runs are now bullish on the stock market.

Market researchers at Massachusetts Life Insurance Company, Springfield, Mass., found an increased level of optimism when they reviewed results from a survey of about 1,000 participants in MassMutual retirement plans. The survey period from ran from Nov. 15, 2009, to Jan. 15.

Overall, about 76% of the participants said they are optimistic about the stock market and believe that performance will improve in the next 12 months. Only 7.6% predicted that the market will decline.

Although 40% of the participants said they have become more conservative in allocating assets, 33% said they have become more aggressive.

Women were somewhat less optimistic, and somewhat less likely to say they enjoy managing their investments.

About 37% of the participants said being able to retire is their greatest financial concern. That compares with 16% who named health care costs as their top financial concern. Job security ranked third and was named by about 14.5% of the participants, and about 12% cited managing debt as their top problem.

Only about 10% of the participants said they work with a personal financial advisor, but only 13% said the Great Recession has made them less likely to talk to an advisor, 30% said they are now more likely to seek help.