It’s no secret that the United States faces a retirement crisis, with almost half of Americans 55 to 66 having no savings and living paycheck to paycheck. Family businesses nationwide know the struggles of working hard to build their business and provide for their employees and families while also thinking about their financial future.
Only one-third of small businesses say they can afford retirement plans. Many struggle to match the benefit packages of big companies, trying to contribute both to employees’ financial futures and their own. Only 25 percent of business owners have any financial strategy for retirement. And post-COVID, 17 percent of self-employed workers expect to retire later — or aren’t planning to retire at all. Even though small businesses can’t offer the same retirement plans as major corporations, there are other ways small businesses can attract talent and provide for their employees.
Some in the private sector are attempting to help address this issue. For example, BlackRock, an investment management firm, announced the launch of a suite of target date exchange-traded funds to answer the demand for individuals to access and control their finances easily. These new ETFs will help millions of savers invest for retirement in an easier, more affordable and more efficient way.
This is a solution to the problem we’ve seen grow nationwide, but it can specifically help small businesses and the self-employed because these funds are professionally managed and automatically rebalanced as the retirement date gets closer. It gives a sense of control and capability back to the user — without the stress or confusion.
This new option comes as 57 million Americans lack a 401(k) access. Without these types of private solutions, the crisis would only deepen. Recent surveys detailed how bad the retirement crisis could get without a solution.
One survey found that nearly 40 percent of independent savers, or individuals without retirement plans through their employers, don’t have confidence in retiring. But this same group of independent savers said that having access to a financial professional or advice would alleviate that fear and make them feel more on track for retirement. Investment providers have seen these stats and fears and are offering products to address these concerns.
There are avenues out there for free financial advice for small businesses. The Financial Planning Association offers pro bono financial planning to communities that need it through volunteer advisers. In 2020, for example, the FPA provided free financial advice to 12,000 consumers. This is an important option and solution for small businesses.
Although businesses have had a tough time, there have been policies aimed at helping them with retirement.
The SECURE 2.0 Act is a solution for future retirees. Signed into law in December 2022, the legislation was designed to help Americans save for their future through various provisions created to expand access to retirement plans, increase employee savings opportunities, and streamline the administration of employer-sponsored retirement plans. It brings about provisions such as automatic enrollment for employees, saver matching, emergency withdrawal penalty updates, and emergency savings options.
There have also been state-led solutions. State retirement savings programs have continued to gain momentum, with 19 state programs and assets nearing $1 billion. States are also beginning to explore interstate partnerships to help lower costs and increase the efficiency of state-supported plans.
These components guide savers toward stable funding for a happy and healthy retirement. The target date ETF suite could be used for businesses, employees, or even getting ahead for children, spouses and general savings. The ways to use these funds are endless. That, paired with free financial advising from FPA, opens up easy, unintimidating and resourceful ways for businesses and individuals to take their retirements into their own hands. Many people feel they need to go all in when investing, specifically for retirement. But these solutions allow the saving to be on the user’s terms.
America’s business owners, independent savers and retirees should be able to save for retirement without having an employer-ran retirement service and without the stress of independently seeking out a 401(k). Innovative solutions from private businesses, pro-bono services, and state and federal programs help bridge that gap.
These efforts lead all of America toward a secure and stable retirement.