There’s been a huge push by the exchange traded fund (ETF) industry to crack into some of the 401(k) industry’s $2.7 trillion in assets. Perhaps the IRA industry may be worth a look, too.

Perhaps the ETF industry should take a look at the IRA industry. Cogent Research announced that for the first time since it began keeping track, wealthy Americans now hold more assets in Individual Retirement Accounts than they do in workplace-based accounts such as 401(k)s and 403(b)s. In a survey of 4,000 high-net worth Americans, it was found that:

  • Ownership of workplace-based retirement accounts had declined 23%
  • The amount held by affluent Americans in IRAs is 31%; the amount held in employer-based retirement plans is 25%
  • More affluent Americans plan to roll over their assets into an IRA – 39% said they’d do so in 2008; 45% said they’d do so in 2009
  • New laws making it possible to convert traditional IRAs into rollover IRAs could increase the flow of assets

One reason this shift is important is that it signals that many Americans are realizing the value of having flexibility in their retirement accounts. As more money is rolled over into such accounts, there will come more flexibility for investors and the option to use ETFs in such accounts. Your 401(k) plan, on the other hand, is only as good as the choices you’re given by your employer.

For more stories about saving for your golden years, visit our retirement category.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.