Some 56% of 401(k) plan matching contributions are made in cash, and 44% are made in company stock, according to a new study by Fidelity Investments. Among the plans that match in stock, 66% have no restrictions on how employees can trade it. Fifteen percent of plans with company stock removed trading restrictions in 2001, and 21% may remove existing restrictions in the near future. Overall, company stock is offered in 7% of plans studied by Fidelity at the end of 2001; 60% of participants have access to company stock. Moreover, participants in plans with company stock have a higher average balance, $57,000, compared with $40,000 for plans without company stock.
The study of about 9,300 defined contribution plans is expected to be released later this month.