State IRA Programs Give Workers a Retirement Plan Choice – But Self-Directed Investors Have Broader Investment Choices
We’ve written before about the lack of retirement readiness for so many Americans. And although IRAs have been in existence since 1975, available to anyone with earned income to save for retirement, millions of workers rely on an employer-based plan instead—especially if they work for larger firms.
Policy makers in many states are trying to level the retirement savings playing field for millions of workers who do not have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan. To do so, some states are mandating certain small businesses to offer a qualified retirement plan or automatically enroll their employees in a state-sponsored, payroll deduction IRA program.
The concern behind the mandate stems, in part, from these figures:
- The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that 35% of private sector workers (representing approximately around 43 million Americans) work for companies with fewer than 100 employees. (S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “National Business Employment Dynamics Data by Firm Size Class”)
- Fewer than 48% of those firms offer retirement plans to their workers, compared to the 94% of firms with 500+ employees. (S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “National Compensation Survey: Employee Benefits in the United States”)
- The retirement plan gap widens further for people of color: according to the Federal Reserve, 68% of working-age white families have access to a workplace retirement plan compared to 56% of Black and 44% of Hispanic families. (FEDS Notes, “Disparities in Wealth by Race and Ethnicity in the 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances,” September 28, 2020.)
The state-run IRA basics
The criteria differ slightly from state to state, but to put it into a nutshell, they require companies who do business in the state and meet a certain employee census to offer a qualified retirement plan or offer the state-run IRA program to their workers. Within this requirement, is an automatic payroll deduction for participants. Employees can choose to opt out, select a different contribution percentage, or select an investment other than the default, but there is no other plan flexibility.
As of May 2021, over 30 states are considering retirement savings plans for small-business employees, and 12 states are already implementing them. Here is the list of those states with the mandated IRA and links to their program details:
Greater flexibility and choice: a self-directed IRA
At Next Generation, we’re all about saving for retirement. We encourage all workers to open an IRA and contribute as much as they can, up to the annual contribution limits, based on the type of IRA they have. We’re also all about investment options—and for individuals who are comfortable making all their own investment decisions, a self-directed IRA offers tremendous flexibility about the types of investments they can include in their plan.
Self-directed IRAs have the same tax advantages as their regular counterparts, with funds growing tax free or tax deferred, depending on the type of plan. However, rather than relying on stocks, bonds and mutual funds, self-directed investors can diversify their retirement portfolios by including non-publicly traded, alternative assets – such as real estate, private equity, precious metals, notes and loans, cryptocurrency, and much more. Self-directed retirement plans create a hedge against stock market volatility while enabling individuals to invest in more creative assets, with the added potential of greater control over investment returns.
We applaud lawmakers for putting retirement readiness on their dockets and for encouraging Americans to save for retirement. But for savvy investors who know and understand alternative assets, an employer-based plan or state-run IRA program won’t come close to the nearly limitless investment choices a self-directed IRA provides.
Want to learn more? You may schedule a complimentary education session with a Next Generation team member; or email NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com or call 888.857.8058 with your questions about the broad choices of alternative assets these plans allow.
Has the COVID-19 Pandemic Affected Business Owners and Retirement Readiness?
COVID-19 has affected the American economy across a number of sectors and business owners nationwide are feeling the effects. Last month, TD Wealth released the results of a survey conducted in July among 1,296 business owners and individuals in two groups: high-net-worth business owners and individuals with investable assets of more than $500,000, and mass affluent business owners and individuals with investable assets between $100,000 and $499,000. The survey was about the pandemic’s impact on revenue and how or if that affected their retirement planning.
- The majority of respondents in both groups (67% and 73% respectively) said they were concerned about achieving their financial goals due to economic or political uncertainly.
- Among all business owners surveyed:
- Eighty-seven percent said their revenue had been affected by the pandemic,
- Forty-seven percent said they reduced their operations,
- Twenty-five percent experienced temporary or permanent closures.
However, 85% of respondents said they had not altered their retirement planning in spite of the pandemic’s negative economic effects on their businesses. Further, it appears they feel retirement-ready:
- Of those with a long-term investment plan, 94% said they were somewhat confident of achieving their financial goals.
- Among the high-net-worth respondents, 94% expressed confidence about their financial plan generating the income they would need in retirement.
- In the mass affluent group, 82% said they were somewhat confident about having the retirement income they’d need from their financial plans.
The TD Wealth survey also showed that together, retirement savings and investment portfolios comprised more than half of the retirement income across all survey respondents.
Get Retirement Ready with Self-Directed Retirement Plans
Savvy business owners already know a lot about running their businesses and are already comfortable making decisions that affect their operations every day. They could be building a diverse retirement portfolio with a range of alternative assets they also know a lot about—and make their own investment decisions regarding those assets—with a self-directed retirement plan.
Business owners may open several types of self-directed retirement plans based on their business situations, with all having the same benefits as their traditional counterparts but with added advantages—the ability to include nontraditional investments they already know and understand, and create a hedge against stock market volatility.
SEP IRA: SEP stands for Simplified Employee Pension plan; it’s an easy, flexible, option if you are self-employed, or a partner or owner of a corporation with 25 or fewer employees.
SIMPLE IRA: For larger companies of up to 100 employees, the Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees enables employers to make contributions towards their retirement as well as their employees’ retirement.
Solo 401k: The individual/solo 401(k) is for sole proprietors who employ only themselves, their spouse, or partners. It has deduction and contribution benefits similar to a regular 401(k).
At Next Generation, we offer free education to help individuals make informed decisions about which type of self-directed retirement plan to open—including Traditional and Roth IRAs as well as health savings accounts (HSAs) and education savings accounts (ESAs). We always recommend you speak to a trusted financial or tax advisor who knows your specific financial situation to determine if, as a business owner, a SEP IRA, SIMPLE IRA, or Solo(k) will be the plan to help you meet your financial goals.
Once you decide which type of account to open, we make it easy with our starter kits and detailed instructions for funding a new account. As a self-directed investor the rest is up to you—selecting and researching the alternative assets you wish to include, conducting your full due diligence on each investment, and then providing Next Generation with instructions to execute the transaction.
If you are interested in learning more about self-direction as a retirement strategy, please sign up for a complimentary educational session with one of our representatives. Alternatively, you may contact our team directly via phone at 1.888.857.8058 or email NewAccounts@NextGenerationTrust.com.