Fidelity to match a percentage of IRA contributions for 3 years for some retirement savers

Retirement Planning Associated Press

What will it take to get you to contribute more to your retirement savings?

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Fidelity is taking a page out of the 401(k) playbook to try to make it happen for your individual retirement account. The company will begin offering a match on contributions that some savers make to their IRA.

"With IRAs, investors need to take action, not just once but every year," said Lauren Brouhard, senior vice president for retirement at Fidelity Investments. "This gives individuals a good reason to take action."

Fidelity's matching program will last for three years, and it's limited to certain customers. Those who transfer a Roth, traditional or rollover IRA to Fidelity with a balance of at least $10,000 and register for the program will get the match.

The amount of the match will depend on how much money an investor is bringing to Fidelity. Someone transferring $10,000 would get a match worth 1 percent of their annual contributions. The percentage rises for people bringing more money: Someone transferring $500,000 would get a 10 percent match on new contributions.

Matches are seen as free money, so they have been an effective incentive to get people to save more.

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To be sure, the level of match that Fidelity is offering won't guarantee a comfortable retirement. It will pay a max of $1,950 over three years. "But hopefully over the course of three years, it will create some new habits," Brouhard says. And small amounts can grow bigger through the power of compound growth.

Fidelity's move is part of an industrywide push to offer incentives to investors in order to attract more assets in the competitive $7.3 trillion IRA market. IRAs hold 30 percent of the country's total retirement assets, up from 18 percent two decades ago, according to the Investment Company Institute. Much of the growth is the result of job-hopping by investors. After leaving an old job, workers can roll assets over from their 401(k) account into an IRA to keep all their savings in one pot.