Small Biz Owners Fret about their 401(k) Match

June 8, 2009 ( - Some 75% of recently polled small businesses don't expect the economy to impact their ability to continue offering a 401(k) plan, but 51% of the small business owners anticipate the downturn could force them to reduce or eliminate their matching contributions.

A Nationwide Financial Services news release about the survey said 44% of the employers who responded said they may have to cut back or cut out their 401(k) match.

Approximately 34% of small businesses expect to modify or reduce their health care benefits this year. Those most concerned about having to change their health care benefits include company owners (53%) and those businesses with 50 employees or less (39%).

According to the announcement, companies were asked to rank their top concerns regarding their retirement plan and found that 31% listed providing investment education to employees as their biggest concern. That concern increased among plans with a higher asset size.

Other concerns included:

  • Fiduciary and legal responsibilities related to the plan – 29 %
  • Selection and monitoring of retirement plan investment options – 21 %
  • Investment and administrative fees – 12 %

The survey found that 75% of small businesses that have an investment professional place strong importance on their ability to understand the company’s unique needs. In addition, 7% said that they value an investment professional’s ability to help them meet their legal responsibilities associated with offering a retirement plan. Companies with between five and 50 employees were more likely than those with more than 50 to indicate they need help meeting legal obligations.

An independent market research firm conducted phone interviews between December 2008 and March 2009. A total of 401 respondents completed the survey.

To qualify for participation in the survey, respondents had to meet the following criteria:

  • Be employed full-time, part-time, or self employed;
  • Have 5 - 250 employees across all locations;
  • Have at least a moderate influence in decision making regarding the company's retirement plan;
  • Offer a type of 401(k) retirement plan;
  • Have offered a 401(k) retirement plan for at least one year; and
  • Have between $500,000 and $10 million in assets.