New Law Provides Many Growth Tools For Advisors In The Retirement Plan Space And Beyond To Serve Clients Better
News of the many changes in the SECURE 2.0 Act, signed by President Biden on Dec. 29, 2022, has circulated to every corner of America’s financial world. Built upon the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (often called “SECURE 1.0”), the legislation received broad support from both major parties.
Wealth management experts, especially those focused on retirement, have been studying the new law to determine the changes and opportunities it provides for clients both in and beyond the retirement plan space, as well as new tax planning strategies. Professionals, home offices and service providers are rushing to implement needed changes for 2023 and develop a full grasp of the provisions that will become active in the coming years.
We assembled the following Retirement Roundtable of experts to learn more about SECURE 2.0:
- Matt Zokai, Director, Retirement Solutions at Avantax
- Jason Roberts, CEO of Pension Resource Institute
- Jonathan St. Clair, Chief Fiduciary Officer and Managing Director at SageView Advisory Group
- Joe DeNoyior, President of HUB Retirement and Wealth Management
We asked each of them the following questions:
How does SECURE 2.0 change growth opportunities for FAs in the retirement plan advisory space? For whom does SECURE 2.0 increase opportunities to expand or enter the space, in what cases might it present new obstacles to some advisors already in the space, and what remains to be determined about SECURE 2.0?
Our roundtable panelists’ responses are below.
Matt Zokai, Director, Retirement Solutions, Avantax
SECURE 2.0 has created a tremendous opportunity for financial professionals who focus on the retirement plan space. From enhanced tax credits that can be used to offset the cost of establishing new plans and employer contributions to requiring automatic enrollment and escalation, financial professionals see a significant increase not only in the number of business owners looking to establish plans, but also in the expected contributions within those plans.
Tax professionals are uniquely positioned to take advantage of the opportunity presented by SECURE 2.0. They can now complete tax work for a client, then recommend a plan be retroactively established for the business up until their tax filing deadline, with extension, and fund it with employer contributions or employee deferrals (for sole proprietors only).
In addition, they can apply the enhanced tax credit to potentially offset 100% of the plan costs for the first three years as well as $1,000 of employer contributions per employee phased down over five years.
The provisions of SECURE 2.0 range in effective dates from 2023 to 2033. We are still waiting on many of our vendor partners to update their products and systems to accommodate these new provisions. For example, Simplified Employee Pensions (SEPs) and Savings Incentive Match Plans for Employees of Small Employers (SIMPLEs) are permitted to be designated as Roth IRAs starting in the 2023 tax year, but as of now there is no product that offers this feature.
Other provisions like the Student Loan Matching Program and Emergency Savings Accounts require system updates and enhancements before they become effective in 2024.
Jason Roberts, CEO, Pension Resource Institute
The expanded tax credits and evolving state mandates make it possible for financial professionals to earn recurring revenue serving the startup plan market. Previously, it was difficult to do this profitably but SECURE 2.0 allows for up to $5,000 in tax credits for starting a new plan.
Though the rules are nuanced, we are seeing significant demand from advisors for education so they can use the new law to build relationships with business owners, charge a minimum or flat-rate fee to service the plan and create cross-selling opportunities with participants.
The tax credits mentioned above, combined with the proliferation of Pooled Employer Plans (created by SECURE 1.0, but 2.0 makes clear the credits are available for employers joining a PEP), produce significant incentives for advisors that previously did not focus on serving the employer plan market to now do so in a profitable and scalable manner.
The PEP structure significantly lessens the administrative burdens imposed on employers, causing them to have fewer needs for plan compliance – a subject that many less experienced advisors hope to avoid. A PEP also provides a platform for creating a single investment lineup for all employers and participants, thereby streamlining the advisor’s investment-related services.
SECURE 2.0 also allows 403(b) plans to join a PEP. Advisors with relationships in the higher education and nonprofit sectors are asking for more information about “bundling” their clients to serve them in a more scalable (and thereby profitable) manner. We believe these “levers” will help to position advisors at all skill levels to access the estimated 600,000-plus new business owner clients entering the retirement plan market along with the 30 million-plus new savers they employ.
Jonathan St. Clair, Chief Fiduciary Officer And Managing Director, SageView Advisory Group
There are a number of opportunities for advisors, starting with increased tax credits for startup plans to the ability to provide a “match” for employees paying off student loans. It provides a number of items to help retirement saving like creating new types of emergency savings within retirement plans and the ability to transfer 529 balances to a Roth IRA.
There are also a number of provisions to provide more flexible plan administration and compliance corrections. While many of these provisions are not “live” until future years, there will be many plan design and planning options to talk about with clients.
Like much tax-related legislation, every give seems to have a take. The Act is set to increase catch-up contribution limits. However, there is a provision that would require those with wages over $145,000 to do so on a Roth basis. And because of a technical issue with the legislation, the law may have accidentally eliminated catch-up altogether.
We are waiting on guidance for a number of provisions from the first SECURE Act and 2.0 has only increased the need.
Joe DeNoyior, President, HUB Retirement and Wealth Management
SECURE 2.0 creates additional consulting opportunities for retirement plan specialists – meeting with plan sponsors, evaluating the provisions in terms of timing, what’s optional versus mandatory, plan design and operational implications, and helping to enhance the communication strategy for their employees.
One of the most impactful growth opportunities is the tax credits available for small business owners who start up a 401(k) beginning this year, along with the mandated automatic plan design features starting in 2025. Advisors can now engage with small business owners to start a plan.
I do see potential obstacles for advisors who aren’t retirement plan specialists. Historically they didn’t need to understand the many details of plan management, so they may not have the technical expertise or the infrastructure in their practices to help employers implement SECURE 2.0 and educate their employees.
At HUB, we are highly optimistic that SECURE 2.0 will have a positive influence on retirement security in America.
Julius Buchanan, Managing Editor at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at email@example.com
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