Until a couple of years ago, 401(k) investors could pretty much count on plump returns, so they weren't paying a whole lot of attention to the costs of mutual funds within their portfolios. But the market's turmoil since then, along with some high-profile lawsuits, has turned a spotlight on mutual funds' pricing, and that has spurred a resurgence in a product that many 401(k) plans had historically neglected: collective investment trusts. That's good news for banks, since CITs must legally have a bank or trust company as a trustee.

CITs invest in stocks, bonds and other securities and, unlike mutual funds available to retail customers, are aimed solely at retirement funds. Robert Thomann, the president of Invesco National Trust Co., a unit of asset manager Invesco Ltd., said in January that he expects his firm to book more CIT business in the first few months of this year than it has in the last two years combined.

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