March 22, 2011 / 7:37 PM / 8 years ago

Retirement assets end 2010 just shy of peak

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. retirement assets, as measured by defined contribution and defined benefit plans, rose 11 percent last year, closing in on peak levels reached in 2007, a study said on Tuesday.

Assets in the two types of retirement accounts rose to $10.2 trillion in 2010, just shy of the $10.3 trillion peak reached in 2007, the Spectrem Group study said.

The most typical defined contribution account in the United States is a 401(k) plan, which gives the holder a say in investment decisions. Defined benefit plans are managed by the employee’s company.

Individual retirement accounts last year also approached the 2007 peak. Assets in IRAs rose to $4.77 trillion at the end of 2010, near the record of $4.78 trillion in 2007, Spectrem said.

The study found increasing popularity of asset allocation, target date and other similar funds. The study also found that plan sponsors are moving to restore matching contributions that were reduced or eliminated during the depth of the global financial crisis.

A broader measure of U.S. retirement assets that included annuities showed retirement assets rose to $16.6 trillion at the end of the third quarter, compared with the 2007 peak of $17.9 trillion, according to the Investment Company Institute.

The reinvested returns of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, a broad measure of the U.S. stock market, rose 10.76 percent in last year’s fourth quarter.

Reporting by Herbert Lash; Editing by Leslie Adler

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