Investors Turn to Advisers for Roth Conversion Help

While many investors still do not understand the features of a Roth IRA or know about the conversion opportunity just months away, most said they would look to their financial adviser or account for help, according to a Fidelity survey.

Fifty-one percent of respondents indicated they would look to their financial adviser or accountant for information on whether a Roth IRA is right for them, while 35% would seek help from a representative of their financial institution, and 32% would use online resources, according to a Fidelity release of the results.

Fidelity found 88% of survey respondents are unaware that beginning January 1, income limits are being lifted for investors who want to covert non-Roth retirement assets into a Roth IRA. More than a quarter of investors (28%) answered incorrectly when asked if contributions to a Roth IRA are tax-deductible, as did 20% when asked if investment gains and income are tax free.

Nearly a third of respondents (32%) did not know if Roth IRA assets can be withdrawn tax-free after age 59 ½, and two-thirds did not know if withdrawals need to be made starting at age 70 ½. The majority of respondents also did not know what Roth IRA assets can be used for.

More than half (55%) of investors surveyed said they are willing to investigate a Roth IRA conversion for a 401(k) left with a former employer or other IRA. Lack of understanding was the number one barrier to conversion cited by respondents, Fidelity said.

Approximately one-third of investors indicated they do not understand a Roth IRA conversion’s tax implications (34%) or the tax structure of a Roth IRA itself (30%). Nearly a third (30%) said their balances are too small for a conversion or they lack sufficient funds (27%) to cover the conversion tax costs. One in five (20%) do not believe a Roth IRA fits their needs.

Only 7% of surveyed investors said they plan to convert to a Roth IRA.

Fidelity offers information to help investors in their analysis of Roth IRAs at