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I own a small company and I'm looking to start a 401k plan for my employees, how do I get started?

Apr 13, 2012 by Catherine from Harmony, PA in  |  Flag
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5 votes
James Holland Level 18

Catherine all of the answers above are very good. I recommend interviewing a few different Advisors. Some helpful hints. Ask about their experience in dealing with Retirement Plans How long have they been working with ERISA plans. Ask the advisor if his/her firm will accept being a Named Fiduciary in writing, tell them you need that from a Principal of the firm , someone who has authority to bind the firm. Ask them how they are paid is it fee based? Flat dollar? % of assets? Do they collect any Revenue Sharing? Do they have a Broker/Dealer affiliation? feel free to reach out to discuss in more detail.


Comment   |  Flag   |  Apr 16, 2012 from Charlotte, NC

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George Cones, JD Level 20


We don't know much about your company. If you have a small number of employees, it may be best (and importantly more cost efficient) to set up a SEP-IRA. These plans can be set up by an advisor and they are relatively simple to administer, and your investment choices may be wider. When you garner sufficient assets, you could set up a 401(k) plan. There are a lot of legal requirements for 401(k) plans, so do your homework.

A good resource for you as a business owner can be found at http://www.ici.org/research . If you work with a fee based advisor (someone who is only paid by the client, and receives no remuniration from third parties), you should have a better idea of what you are paying in fees. There are many layers of fees, which are complex and difficult to understand. High fees can detract from long-term sucess. It is important to understand the fees that you and your employees would be paying, since every dollar paid in fees is a dollar less in retirement.

Comment   |  Flag   |  Apr 13, 2012 from Wilmington, DE

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Catherine, That's a great question and it's actually quite easy. First you need to find a financial planner who has experience in retirement plans and managing them. Firms like mine help start all kinds of retirement plans, based on what's best for a company. This does vary based on the number of employees, salary of employees, and many other variables. I'd recommend interviewing a few companies, getting referals from fellow small business owners, and doing online searches to find CFP professionals that help manage small business retirement plans. I hope this helps and please contact me with any other questions you have. - Nick

Comment   |  Flag   |  Apr 16, 2012 from King of Prussia, PA

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A lot will depend on how much you can commit to funding the plan with for the first few years. I would suggest interviewing some financial advisors that work with Plan Providers and TPA(third party administrators). Starting small, new plans is not a "lucrative" oppurtunity in most cases for advisors, but many will be willing to help. The larger direct plans like Fidelity and Principal will likely not be able to help you due to account size minimums. This is a case where you may want to leverage a banking relationship and get some help from a young bank broker. Definitely involve your CPA as well. When you start a defined contribution plan, you are bringing in another level reporting for tax and accounting purposes. Don't be offput by the fees that you will likely pay; it will get better pretty quickly if you keep funding the plan and it shows consistant growth. At theat point, you can shop it a bit more. I hope this helps.

Comment   |  Flag   |  Apr 13, 2012 from Columbus, GA

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