Changing jobs is an exciting time, but in the midst of the transition it’s easy to forget about your retirement savings. One common mistake people make is leaving their 401(k) behind with their old employer, which can also leave you with less control of your investments and awareness of how your portfolio is performing. 

As frequent career changes become more commonplace, it has become even more likely for retirement funds to be dispersed across multiple accounts. Research shows that the average person holds 12 jobs during their working life, or about once every four years. This can lead to quite a trail of retirement accounts at previous workplaces.

Rather than leaving your 401(k) in the hands of the former employer, you should consider rolling over these funds to an IRA when you switch jobs. This action will help you manage your retirement savings more easily and allow you to make more informed decisions about your financial future.

Why You Shouldn’t Leave Your 401(k) Behind

Keeping your 401(k) with a former employer’s plan is usually allowed as long as you have a sufficient amount of money in the account — $5,000 in most plans. Employees sometimes opt to keep their retirement funds with a previous employer because they’re satisfied with how the account is being managed. This approach is also much preferable to cashing out the fund when you depart a job, which can often result in an early withdrawal penalty plus a tax on the distribution.

In many cases, however, employees simply leave their 401(k) behind because they don’t think to move over the funds to a new retirement account, or because they think it will be too complicated or time-consuming to do so. They may believe that it’s wiser to leave the funds to mature in a separate account as a way of diversifying their retirement investments.

Unfortunately, leaving your 401(k) with a previous employer can also create several disadvantages for your retirement savings:

Why Rolling a 401(k) Over to an IRA Benefits You

Rolling over your 401(k) savings to an IRA is a convenient way to update your retirement savings strategy when you switch jobs. There are several compelling reasons to consider taking this action:

Rolling Over Your 401(k) with Grey Ledge Advisors

Rolling over your 401(k) to an IRA is a relatively straightforward process. As a first step, you can   contact  Grey Ledge Advisors to assist you in setting up your new account with a new IRA custodian. Then you contact your current 401(k) administrator and request a direct rollover to the new IRA. Since this action transfers funds from one qualified retirement account to another and does not withdraw them, you will not incur any taxes or penalties.

If a direct transfer is not available, you’ll need to do an indirect transfer by requesting a check payable to the new IRA custodian. However, you have only 60 days from receiving the check to deposit it into your IRA to avoid tax penalties.

Working with a financial advisor like Grey Ledge Advisors will not only help you complete the rollover process efficiently, but also provide you with a valuable partner as you pursue your retirement goals. An advisor can also guide you through any unique circumstances, such as what to do when a 401(k) with a previous employer includes company stock.

Grey Ledge Advisors also abides by the fiduciary standard, which means we act in our clients’ best interests. Rather than chasing commissions, we seek out the lowest cost investments that have a higher probability of maximizing our clients’ returns — including options for minimizing IRA fees.

Contact Grey Ledge Advisors using our online form or give us a call at 203-453-9075 to begin a 401(k) rollover process.