You'd think it was the end of the world as we know it. Policywonks from inside the Beltway insist there's a problem with definedcontribution retirement plans. As proof, they point to governmentstatistics that show more a full third of American workers do nothave access to a corporate retirement plan. So they cobble togethersome “new” retirement plan contraption Rube Goldberg would envy.They insist this will answer our retirement dreams.

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If you look deeper into the government's own data, though,you'll see not a problem, but an opportunity. While it's true only66 percent of private industry workers have access to retirementplans, the greater truth is 9 out of 10 workers employed by acompany with 500 or more employees have access to a companysponsored retirement plan. The issue lies on the other end of thespectrum. If you work for a company with fewer than 100 employees,you've got no better chance of having access to a corporateretirement plan than you would flipping heads on a coin. Thereinrests the opening for enterprising retirement serviceproviders.

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This is the region of the retirement plan market traditionallyheld by the insurance industry and their group plans. With theburgeoning business of class action suits involving hiddenconflict-of-interest fees, these conventional providers may bequestioning whether the revenues are worth the risk. Add to thisthe growing regulatory trend to level the playing field and enforcesome sort of universal fiduciary standard on all retirement planproviders, and you have the makings of an unsustainable businessmodel.

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Unlike what some are saying, no market will be left unserved. Afew are making designs for a government sponsored takeover of thislucrative market segment, but why throw taxpayer's money into theinvestment required to build the infrastructure to support a newgovernment venture? After all, you've got a huge private industryfully willing to spend its own money. There are already a handfulof service providers who claim they can offer full scale retirementplans to the small business market at costs approaching the samelevel as those paid by much larger firms.

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And this is even before we get functional and practical clarityon the use of open MEPs by private industry. With the presidentfinally behind this bipartisan effort, who knows what fantasticofferings will make their way into the retirement benefits offeredby small businesses to their employees? The competitive market is agreat cauldron of creation. Retirement plan products that cansimultaneously address the oversight concerns of regulators, theoverburden concerns of employers, and the overcomplexity concernsof employees will open up a new gold rush for the industry. Oncethis Holy Grail of retirement plan accessibility is fashioned, itdoesn't take a rocket scientist to envision retirement planaccessibility for workers in smaller companies launching to thesame heights found in larger companies.

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Lack of retirement plan accessibility doesn't require new planvehicles, just a better distribution mechanism for existingplans.

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Christopher Carosa

Chris Carosa has been writing a weekly article and monthly column for BenefitsPRO online and BenefitsPRO Magazine since 2011 and is a nationally recognized award-winning writer, researcher and speaker. He’s written seven books, including From Cradle to Retire: The Child IRA; Hey! What’s My Number? – How to Increase the Odds You Will Retire in Comfort; A Pizza The Action: Everything I Ever Learned About Business I Learned By Working in a Pizza Stand at the Erie County Fair; and the widely acclaimed 401(k) Fiduciary Solutions. Carosa is also Chief Contributing Editor of the authoritative trade journal FiduciaryNews.com and publisher of the Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel, a weekly community newspaper he founded in 1989. Currently serving as President of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and with more than 1,000 articles published in various publications, he appears regularly in the national media. A “parallel” entrepreneur, he actively runs a handful of businesses, including a small boutique investment adviser, providing hands-on experience for his writing. A trained astrophysicist, he also holds an MBA and has been designated a Certified Trust and Financial Advisor. Share your thoughts and story ideas with him through Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/christophercarosa/)and Twitter (https://twitter.com/ChrisCarosa).