Financial advisors have an opportunity to enter the 401(k) market through small businesses, according to a financial services executive.

“There is a huge opportunity for financial professionals to help at this end of the market and business owners need their help,” says Steve Davis, national sales manager for Guardian Retirement Solutions.

Plan sponsors in the micro to small plan market are underserved, with only 54 percent of sponsors saying they feel they are getting a good value from their advisors, he says.

As the economy recovers, small business owners are able to boost their 401(k) offerings and participants are more interested in contributing as the stock market does well, says Davis. Combine that with the fact that some small business owners are deferring decisions on 401(k) plans while they deal with the Affordable Care Act regulations, and next year should see a lot of activity in the 401(k) market.

Ninety percent of all 401(k) plans have less than $10 million in assets and 80 percent have less than $2.5 million in assets, according to Guardian.

Less than 5 percent of workers making between $30,000 and $50,000 a year save on their own, compared to 70 percent of that same population who save if they have an employer-sponsored program.

Another trend that will continue next year is the move to features such as automatic enrollment, managed accounts and target-date funds, Guardian says, as plan participants seek less decision-making and more automation

Two kinds of advisors will move into the market to help small business owners manage small and micro plans, says Davis: the advisor who is new to the market and the advisor who has managed large plans but wants to increase business by managing small plans.