Paul Davidson

Director of Product Manage- ment at Paychex, Inc

Debunking Common 401(k) Myths for Your Small Business Clients

As retirement readiness becomes a growing concern for today’s workforce, retirement plans, including 401(k)s, are an increasingly important offering when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent. In a recent survey by Paychex, small business owners reported minimizing turnover as the most important reason (23%) for offering retirement benefits, followed closely by the individual need for the benefit (20%). Yet many small businesses do not offer 401(k) plans to their employees or themselves.

There are several common myths around retirement plans, but as an accountant, you can help your clients understand their value and how they can build upon business success. Here’s the truth about eight common misconceptions that prevent small businesses from creating retirement plans:

Myth #1: Offering a 401(k) plan is too expensive.
Fact #1: The tax benefits from retirement plans help offset the cost. Tax incentives for new plans can be as high as $500 a year for three years – that’s $1,500. Furthermore, business owners can deduct 401(k) expenses and contributions, such as administrative fees, employer matching or profit sharing, on business taxes.

Myth #2: My company is too small to offer a 401(k) plan.
Fact #2: Retirement plans exist for all business sizes, including sole proprietorships – in fact, the majority of the 77,000 retirement plans that Paychex manages belong to small businesses. Business owners can start small with a plan that can grow with the business.

Myth #3: Employees can’t afford a 401(k) plan.
Fact #3: It doesn’t take much to get started. Say an employee spends $1.64 per day on a small cup of coffee, amounting to $18,000 over 30 years. That same $1.64 per day in 401(k) contributions can amount to $60,644 over 30 years. That’s the magic of compounding interest!

Myth #4: Employees aren’t interested in a 401(k).
Fact #4: According to the Federal Reserve Board’s Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households, nearly one-third of Americans have no retirement savings, but a study by MetLife found that 64 percent of employees said that a retirement plan is critical or very important. Employees are interested in solutions to help secure their families’ future and their own.

Myth #5: An IRA is enough.
Fact #5: A 401(k) plan has many advantages compared to a SIMPLE IRA. The maximum annual salary deferral is higher for 401(k) plans than that of a SIMPLE IRA and the 401(k) plan catch-up contribution over the age of 50 is double that of a SIMPLE IRA. 401(k) plans also feature profit sharing, loan availabilities, and Roth option opportunities that SIMPLE IRAs do not.

Myth #6: Matching is required.
Fact #6: Matching is not required with a 401(k) plan as it is with a SIMPLE IRA; however, the employer has the option to add matching at any time. Not only does matching help maximize the employer’s personal contributions, matching contributions are generally tax deductible

Myth #7: If “My business is my nest egg” or “I don’t plan to retire” then I don’t need a 401(k).
Fact #7: You can’t predict the future, but you can plan for it. Expecting the best and planning for the worst is the safest option, as the economy, consumer demand, health, and family needs can change at any time.

Myth #8: 401(k)s are complicated to set up, choose, and maintain.
Fact #8: Partnering with a reputable provider eases your administrative burden and can provide investment help.

Paychex ranks as the largest recordkeeper by total number of defined contribution plans, according to a recent survey by PLANSPONSOR magazine, a national publication dedicated to the pension and retirement industry. Serving 77,000 plans, Paychex has earned this honor for seven consecutive years. Paychex helps with plan design and onboarding, integrating payroll and retirement systems into the plan to ease administration; it also offers fiduciary service in partnership with Mesirow Financial, GuidedChoice, LPL Financial, and Wilshire Associates, as well as custodial and trustee services, such as plan administration, regulations, and participant best interests information.

Client-accountant discussions around employer-sponsored retirement benefits and the misconceptions above can provide a natural extension to valuable conversations around the business owner’s financial plan, offering yet another opportunity to enhance your role as trusted advisor, particularly as ongoing legislative uncertainties related to benefit offering regulations have made planning for the future more necessary than ever.

Paul Davidson is director of product management at Paychex, a leading provider of integrated human capital management solutions for payroll, HR, retirement, and insurance services.