Small-Plan Sales on the Rise

Despite current economic strains, ShareBuilder reports surging sales of small business 401(k) plans.

The small-business plan provider has seen sales of its Small Biz 401(k) product increase by 116% in Q1 this year, particularly for one-person businesses, according to a press release.

“When times get tough, one of the first things people scale back on is contributions to their retirement,” said Stuart Robertson, General Manager ShareBuilder Advisors, LLC, a subsidiary of ING Direct. “Seeing small businesses aggressively bucking that trend is pretty remarkable. During the first quarter of this year, our sales jumped 116% year over year and plan sales continued to be very strong through April.”

More than half of the sales during the period were made to one-person businesses seeking a solo 401(k) and the remaining sales went to small businesses with less than 100 employees.

Robertson attributes the increase in sales to the fact that 401(k) plans help small business retain money. Essentially, the plans would prefer keeping the money rather than giving it over to the IRS. “When you couple that with the fear of a possible recession, people tend to give their finances some deeper thought,” Robertson said.

Robertson also believes that the increased usability and availability of small, affordable plans is helping to buoy sales. Nowadays, easy-to-use features online allow for less paper work or hassles.

“In the past, the thought of talking to someone about a 401(k) plan was pretty intimidating to a small business—to the point that most never took the first step,” Robertson said. “Now it’s easier for these same folks to go online, in a pressure-free environment, and check things out. When they do, they see that a 401(k) is well within reach and more readily sign-up.”