Automatic 401(k) Plans Growing
The number of 401(k) programs for small and midsize companies handled by Fidelity Advisor 401(k) grew substantially last year, indicating it is a lucrative field for financial advisors, according to Fidelity.

Currently, three-fourths of all 401(k) plans of under $50 million, which includes small and midsize companies, are sold through third-party financial advisors, up from 52% in 2003, according to a recent review of the market by Fidelity Investments.

Fidelity sold 533 plans last year, increasing its number by 15% to 3,655 plans. Assets increased by more than 30% to $23.2 billion, and the number of participants in Fidelity plans grew by 8% to 640,000.

Also significant is the fact that the number of plans using automatic enrollment increased 33% over 2008 to 1,315 of those administered by Fidelity. Among those with automatic enrollment, the number also using automatic annual increases for participants grew 34% in 2009.

The increases in total numbers and the fact that recent changes in federal regulations make it easier for employers to automatically enroll employees in 401(k) plans indicate this is a tremendous opportunity for advisors to enter the employer retirement plan market, according
to Fidelity.

ProShares Offers Inverse ETFs
ProShares is offering three new ProShares ETFs to provide the opposite (-100%) of daily performance, before fees and expenses, of equity indexes covering China, the U.S. real estate and the U.S. basic materials sectors.

The new ETFs are Short FTSE/Xinhua China 25 (YXI), Short Real Estate (REK) and Short Basic Materials (SBM). The new funds will have lower volatility than the existing double inverse ETFs based on these indexes that ProShares offers.

First Allied Launches Fund Allocator
First Allied Securities Inc., an independent broker-dealer based in San Diego, is launching Fund Allocator, a managed mutual fund program that leverages custom market models from Advanced Equities Asset Management Inc., which is First Allied's in-house money management firm.

Fund Allocator is the first of a number of products First Allied plans to start this year under the Guided Portfolio Solutions platform. Next will be the Unified Managed Account program that will feature new technology to enable overlay management services of tactical asset allocation and continuous management to maximize tax efficiency.

Curian Adds New Investment Strategies
Curian Capital LLC is adding two new investment strategies to its wealth management platform, the Curian Dynamic Risk Strategy and the Curian Enhanced Real Return Strategy.