Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plan vs. Employee-Sponsored Plans

Shawn Plummer, CRPC

Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor

What are Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans?

Employer-sponsored retirement plans are financial plans provided by an employer to help employees save for retirement. These plans can vary but often include options like 401(k)s, 403(b)s, and pension plans. Employers may contribute to these plans through matching contributions or profit-sharing.


  • A 401(k) where an employer matches a portion of the employee’s contribution.
  • A defined benefit pension plan where the employer guarantees a specific retirement benefit amount.
Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans

What are Employee-Sponsored Plans?

Employee-sponsored plans refer to retirement savings or investment options that an employee contributes to independently, without direct involvement or contribution from the employer. These can include individual retirement accounts (IRAs) or personal investment accounts.


  • An employee independently opens and contributes to a Traditional or Roth IRA.
  • An employee invests in stocks, bonds, or mutual funds through a personal brokerage account.

Comparison Table

FeatureEmployer-Sponsored PlansEmployee-Sponsored Plans
ContributionOften involves employer contributionsSolely employee contributions
Types401(k), 403(b), pension plansIRAs, personal investments
Tax BenefitsTax-deferred growth, potential for pre-tax contributionsTax advantages vary (e.g., Roth IRA post-tax contributions)
ControlPlan options determined by employerFull control by employee
AccessTied to employmentAvailable to anyone with income
Employee Sponsored Retirement Plan


Understanding the differences between employer-sponsored and employee-sponsored retirement plans is crucial for effective financial planning. Employer-sponsored plans often offer added benefits like employer contributions and tax advantages, while employee-sponsored plans provide more flexibility and control. By combining these approaches, individuals can create a robust retirement savings strategy. Contact us today for a free quote.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I contribute to an employer-sponsored retirement plan and an IRA?

Yes, you can contribute to an employer-sponsored retirement plan and an IRA, but there may be income limits for deducting contributions to an IRA.

What happens if I leave my employer?

If you leave your employer, you can often take your retirement plan or roll it into a new one.

Can I borrow money from my retirement plan?

Some retirement plans allow you to borrow money from the plan, but restrictions and fees are often associated with this.

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Shawn Plummer, CRPC

Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor

Shawn Plummer is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor, insurance agent, and annuity broker with over 14 years of first-hand experience with annuities and insurance. Since beginning his journey in 2009, he has been pivotal in selling and educating about annuities and insurance products. Still, he has also played an instrumental role in training financial advisors for a prestigious Fortune Global 500 insurance company, Allianz. His insights and expertise have made him a sought-after voice in the industry, leading to features in renowned publications such as Time Magazine, Bloomberg, Entrepreneur, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, SmartAsset, The Simple Dollar, U.S. News and World Report, Women’s Health Magazine, and many more. Shawn’s driving ambition? To simplify retirement planning, he ensures his clients understand their choices and secure the best insurance coverage at unbeatable rates.

The Annuity Expert is an independent online insurance agency servicing consumers across the United States. The goal is to help you take the guesswork out of retirement planning and find the best insurance coverage at the cheapest rates

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