Asset management giant BlackRock has rolled out a set of mutualfunds for 401(k) plans that involve index, rather than activelymanaged, investments, including index versions of its LifePathtarget-date retirement funds. The move points to the growinginterest among retirement plan sponsors in using passively managedinvestments, which are usually less expensive than actively managedfunds.

BlackRock now offers 16 index mutual funds for 401(k) plans,including LifePath funds dated from 2020 to 2055, a bond fund thattracks Barclay's U.S. aggregate index and funds tracking differentstock indexes, such as the S&P 500, the Russell 2000 and theMSCI EAFE.

Chip Castille, managing director and head of BlackRock's U.S.and Canada defined-contribution group, says the index mutual fundsare aimed at small to midsize businesses and the financial adviserswho work with such companies. A large chunk of the $342 billion indefined-contribution plan assets that BlackRock manages are inindex investments, but those are mostly in collective trusts, whichtend to be used by bigger companies.

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Susan Kelly

Susan Kelly is a business journalist who has written for Treasury & Risk, FierceCFO, Global Finance, Financial Week, Bridge News and The Bond Buyer.