The April 15 deadline to file federal tax returns strikes a touch of dread in most of us. Investment advisors, though, can be hit with a double dose of dread: one possibly from their personal return; the extra filip from their clients’. To give advisors a peek into some of this April-induced anxiety, Fidelity has released its annual IRA data tracking investor behavior before the tax deadline.

The Fidelity survey found that almost half (45%) of all annual IRA contributions were made in the 28 days leading up to the tax deadline, with half of all new IRAs for the first four months of the year being opened in April.

According to Fidelity, one of the key ways to stem this investment frenzy in IRAs was by making it automatic. The survey showed that of those customers who made contributions in 2009, a much higher percentage (26%) used Fidelity’s Automatic Account Builder (FAAB) feature versus 2008 (17%). FAAB enables investors to schedule specific automatic contribution amounts to their account on selected dates.

Ken Hevert, VP of Fidelity retirement products, said in an interview that “If one of the objections or obstacles that folks face is simply the inertia or the concern over the timing of when to put those savings away, we’re trying to show that you can eliminate the emotions by simply going on an automatic payment plan.”

The survey also flashed a snapshot that is positive news for advisors: the average amount contributed to a Fidelity IRA in 2009 rose approximately $200 from 2008.

Hevert added that Fidelity’s experience “between 2008 and 2009 was that people who used those automatic payment plans were more likely to continue saving for retirement.”

To read about an iPhone app that aids in Roth IRA conversions from the archives of InvestmentAdvisor.com, please click here.

To read an interview with Fidelity Executive VP Maggie Serravalli from the archives of InvestmentAdvisor.com, please click here.