A Gallup poll recently revealed that in a survey of 195,000 U.S. employees, 51 percent were actively looking for new jobs.
There are also 10,000 baby boomers turning 65, the expected age of retirement, every single day, according to AARP.
Finally, about 55 million Americans participate in a 401k plan.
Not all businesses have a 401k plan, and when leaving a company, not every participant will have a new 401k to rollover in to immediately. When a 401k option is not available, there is a savings option called the Individual Retirement Account (IRA) that anyone with a source of income can invest in, build their nest egg and enjoy tax benefits associated with retirement accounts.
When it comes to rolling over, participants should analyze their current options and move the retirement savings appropriately. Some employers specify a specific time frame before the 401k opens for enrollment; this can range from after the first 60 days to once the first full calendar year of employment has passed.
Even if a 401k option is available, speaking with an investment firm about options will allow participants to understand the full range of retirement account options. One of the main differences between a 401k through an employer and an IRA is the 401k is likely to have lower fees simply because there is a large pool of investments from a single source (the employer) and only a select number of investment options (sometimes as low as six).
However, participants in workplace 401k programs likely never had an advisor helping them with their decision-making. With an IRA though, they would have professional guidance. That guidance comes with a fee. What are they getting for that fee? Investment advice which considers all aspects of their life, a wider swath of investment options and a fiduciary responsibility meaning the advisor legally must act in the client’s best interest, explain fees and can provide advice to increase wealth above and beyond a retirement account.
Traditional IRAs work the same as 401ks. 401k participants can keep their money in their previous employer's 401k plan or place it into an IRA without any penalty. It just has to go into an account that is retirement specific.
When you leave a job, you can’t put more money into that specific 401k account. It can stay there though. It’s then up to the participant to decide if they want to move it. If the participant anticipates a few job changes over the years, it is their responsibility to keep track of where they left their retirement accounts.
As previously mentioned, if you’re going to a new job, there may be a waiting period before you can invest. Losing a little time in investing can have long-term consequences and, depending on market performance, could significantly reduce your retirement income. With an IRA, you can continue investing without missing a beat. On top of that, when you have a 401k available again, you can contribute to both.
The idea of an IRA is similar to that of a 401k – you invest money now for retirement. To avoid penalties, you can’t touch either one until you’re 59.5 years old, but there are other retirement savings options that are available and some may involve other strategies and investments.
With an IRA, you gain more flexibility in your investment options so you can customize the investments to the individual better than a designated work plan could. While you are required to take the minimum distributions from the IRA at the age of 70.5 regardless of whether you need it or not, if you are earning wages, you may contribute to a Roth IRA, and there is no mandate requiring the contributor or his or her spouse to take RMDs from the ROTH IRA.
Still not sure what the best option for your retirement? Speak to your financial advisor and see which will provide you with the best options.