For small and mid-sized businesses, providing competitive retirement benefits can be challenging. Group retirement savings plans can be an excellent solution, allowing employers to pool resources to offer cost-effective plans with professional management. By banding together, companies can gain advantages typically only available to larger corporations.
Group retirement savings plans like 401(k)s and Simple IRAs allow businesses to consolidate administration, reduce costs per participant, and deliver uniform benefits across companies. Employees also benefit from access to quality retirement plans they may not otherwise have. With expert guidance, business groups can implement customized plans tailored to their needs and budget.
For smaller companies struggling to match benefits from corporate giants, group plans can be a strategic advantage. They demonstrate a commitment to employee financial wellness that can help attract and retain talent. As the workforce ages, retirement benefits will only become more crucial.
How Do Group Retirement Savings Plans Work?
With group retirement savings plans, multiple companies join together under a single plan administered by one selected provider. Here’s an overview of how these programs work:
- Companies pool their plan assets and participants to qualify for lower costs.
- Uniform plan design and features across all participating employers.
- Centralized compliance, government reporting, and testing.
- Participants across employers are commingled into the larger group plan.
- Plan oversight handled by advisory committee with representation from each employer.
- Significant cost efficiencies compared to separate standalone plans.
- Professionally managed by the chosen provider.
Employees see one seamless program, while employers offload the bulk of cumbersome administration duties. This allows even small companies to provide the retirement benefits of much larger organizations.
Models for Group Retirement Plan Arrangements
There are a few common structural models for multi-employer group retirement plans:
Association plans – Trade or industry associations offer plans for their associated member companies and employees.
PEO plans – Professional employer organizations provide retirement plans covering worksite employees from their client businesses.
Open MEPs – Investment managers offer open “multiple employer plans” available to unrelated businesses of a certain size.
Custom groups – Companies jointly work with a provider to create a customized group plan tailored to their precise needs.
The optimal arrangement depends on the specific goals, number of participating companies, industries involved, and desired level of involvement in plan design.
The Many Benefits of Pooling into Group Retirement Plans
The biggest advantage of group retirement savings plans is the collective strength, efficiencies, and negotiating power of aggregating multiple employers into one larger plan. Key benefits include:
For Participating Companies:
- Significant reduction in administrative expenses
- Minimized fiduciary obligations and liability
- Simplified setup and ongoing maintenance
- Professional investment management and administration
- Tax credits available in some cases
- Access to institutional fund options with lower expense ratios
- Access to competitive large-company retirement benefits
- Lower fee structures translating to better investment returns
- Simplified participation experience across companies
- Continuity if changing jobs between member businesses
- Educational resources to assist retirement planning
For both employers and employees, group plans drive advantages far surpassing what individual companies could achieve alone.
Assessing Your Needs for a Group Retirement Plan
Key factors business owners should consider when evaluating group retirement plans include:
- Number of participating companies
- Industries and relation of member businesses
- Total number of eligible employees across all employers
- Range of desired investment options and contribution types (pre-tax, Roth, etc)
- Employer contribution and matching goals
- Administration and recordkeeping needs
- Cost structure preferences (fixed annual fee or asset-based percentage)
- Desired level of involvement in provider selection and ongoing oversight
Discussing your specific business needs and parameters with group plan advisors ensures you find the optimal match.
Getting Started with a Group Retirement Savings Plan
When ready to pursue a group retirement savings plan, here are some tips for getting started:
- Consult group plan providers to explore plan design approaches.
- Compare multiple vendors on services, pricing models, investment funds, and expertise.
- Discuss goals and preferences with other interested business owners.
- Enlist an advisor to manage procurement and implementation.
- Develop internal processes for payroll deduction, contribution remittance, enrollment, and communication.
- Coordinate employee transition and education.
- Leverage provider expertise during launch and ongoing administration.
The collective expertise and scale of the group helps alleviate individual employers’ typical burdens in establishing competitive plans.
Making Group Retirement Plans a Win-Win
With proper planning and alignment with business goals, group retirement plans can benefit both employers and employees:
- Attract and retain talent with big-company benefits
- Offload administrative burdens to experts
- Maintain budgets with cost efficiencies
- Contribute consistently with flexible options
- Access simpler, low-cost retirement savings
- Benefit from institutional investment options
- Consolidate savings from different employers
- Receive guidance from retirement experts
Careful assessment of needs and prudent selection of providers and advisors can help ensure a mutually beneficial experience for all.
Group retirement savings plans allow small and mid-sized businesses to provide big-league retirement benefits through pooled resources and centralized administration. Joining forces with other companies minimizes costs and obligations for employers while maximizing opportunities for employees. With an aging population, quality retirement offerings will only grow in strategic importance. Pooling into group plans can drive advantages individual companies simply cannot achieve alone.