Financial Planners to Target Retirement-​Planning Americans without 401(k)s

BY Rachel Cagle
Featured image for “Financial Planners to Target Retirement-​Planning Americans without 401(k)s”

"Buoyed by a growing economy and stock market gains, more Americans are feeling confident about their ability to afford a comfortable retirement, according to a long-​running national survey released this week. Still, there are big gaps in confidence between workers who have a retirement plan, such as a 401(k), and those who don't, according to Consumer Reports."

"As in previous years, participation in a retirement plan is closely linked to workers’ confidence. Some 74% of those covered by a 401(k), an IRA, or a pension are at least somewhat confident about retirement, compared with just 39% of those who aren’t."

"Half of American workers lack an employer plan, data show. Many workers these days are freelancers, or they work part-​time and don't qualify for a plan. Others work for small businesses that lack retirement benefits."

In the absence of set retirement plans, consumers who Want To Be More Proactive About Planning For Retirement will probably turn to the internet for alternatives. Last month, 65% of these consumers used a search engine to research a product or service they were considering. Price is a huge factor to them since 55.6% want to reduce debt and increase savings this year. That's probably why 63.6% of this audience took action after receiving direct mails ads and coupons and 53.9% were driven to action by ads on daily deals sites such as Groupon last year.

"The good news is that it’s easy for freelancers and other workers who lack employer plans to set up their own version of a 401(k), which can help save on taxes as well as build savings. You can find these retirement-​account options offered at most fund companies and brokerage firms at low cost. Here are three popular plans to consider."

"Traditional or Roth IRA

If you’re just starting out, you may want to stick to basics: a traditional or Roth IRA. You can put in as much as $6,000 in 2019 (plus an additional $1,000 if you’re 50 or older). With a traditional IRA, your contributions may be deductible, and the growth is tax-deferred."

"With a Roth IRA, your contributions are made on an after-​tax basis, but your money will grow tax-​free, and you’ll pay no taxes on your distributions as long as you follow the withdrawal rules. (Generally, you must have held the account for five years and have turned 59½ or older.) Plus, you can take out your own contributions anytime without paying tax. Roth IRAs do have income limits: Those who are married and filing jointly must have modified adjusted gross incomes below $193,000 this year to make a full contribution."


If you’re working for yourself or have a part-​time job, you can open a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRA. With these plans, you can get a deduction on your contribution, which will grow tax-​deferred. As with regular IRAs, SEPs are widely available at brokerages and fund companies."

"If you have incorporated as business, the overall maximum you can stash away in a SEP is 25% of your compensation, up to $56,000 in 2019. For those who are unincorporated, the same max applies, but the percentage of income you can contribute is reduced by deductions, including half the self-​employment tax (the FICA tax)."

"These plans are highly flexible, which makes the SEP an appealing choice if you don’t have a steady income stream."

"Individual 401(k)

For sole proprietors, an individual 401(k), also known as a solo 401(k), allows you to set up your own retirement plan with many of the same benefits as a large-​company 401(k). (To qualify, you can't have any employees other than your spouse.) As with an employer plan, you can have contributions deducted from your paycheck and invested tax-​deferred in the funds of your choice. Some providers offer a Roth 401(k) option."

"With a solo 401(k), you may be able to stash away even more money than you can in a SEP IRA, depending on your income level, says Jeffrey Levine, a CPA and certified financial planner at BluePrint Wealth Alliance in Garden City, N.Y. That’s because you can contribute two ways, both as an employer and as an employee, up to a maximum of $56,000 this year, or $62,000 if you’re 50 or older."

"With a solo 401(k), you can also borrow from your plan, generally you can take out as much as 50% of the balance up to $50,000, if your plan offers that feature. That’s a welcome backstop in an emergency. But as with a regular 401(k), your goal is to leave that money alone to grow until you’re ready to tap it in retirement."

Financial companies can promote their ability to help Newly Proactive Retirement Planners choose the retirement plan that is the best for them through many forms of advertising. Last year, according to AudienceSCAN, these consumers were driven to action by email ads (54.3%), both digital and over-​the-​air radio ads (49.9%), print and digital newspaper ads (49.3%) and text link ads on websites (41.2%). They're also 18% more likely than others to take action because of ads on their mobile smartphone apps and text ads they received and 41% more likely to find advertising on social media useful.

AudienceSCAN data is available for your applications and dashboards through the SalesFuel API. Media companies and agencies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.