The devil—or angel —is in the details when it comes to the SECURE Act, according to two financial industry insiders from technology firms who are working with the new law.

Designed to increase retirement savings, the law—formally known as Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act—was signed by President Trump in December. It has many moving parts that financial advisors and employers need to explore if they are going to help their clients and employees, the two said.

“There are so many nuances to this act that advisors cannot point to one course of action for clients,” said Tom Burmeister, vice president of financial planning at Advicent, a wealth management software company based in Milwaukee. “Advisors will want to sit with each client and tell him or her which individual parts of the act that affects their portfolios.”

“For example, changing the age trigger for withdrawing required minimum distributions from 70.5 years of age to 72 can change the sequence that clients use to withdraw money from various accounts, particularly for that year-and-a-half window and then beyond,” Burmeister said. The act also allows traditional IRA clients to continue making contributions indefinitely, which is another change that can affect portfolio withdrawals, he added.

Another possible change to the withdrawal strategies for portfolios is a new restriction on inherited IRAs, explained Rob Klapprodt, corporate strategy officer at Vestmark, a technology solutions provider for advisors and wealth managers.

Previously, there were no restrictions on when someone inheriting an IRA had to use the funds. Now, the funds have to be used within 10 years for anyone other than a spouse, which could alter the timing for taking money from other accounts. Those inheriting would not want to take the money during peak earnings years, but now they only have a decade to make that work, he said.

Technology is being developed by companies, including Advicent and Vestmark, to help advisors use the SECURE Act changes to help clients. The bottom line is that advisors will have to educate themselves to the many changes in the act, both men said.

“The guidance of advisors is going to be critical in order for clients to know which parts of the act apply to them,” Burmeister said.

He added that advisors will want to show clients what his or her numbers were before the act was passed and how the act changes those numbers. 

"An individual client may have only one or two things from the act that affects him, but those changes are very important to that person," Burmeister said. "Knowing those details will add stickiness to the relationship. Having an advisor’s help sorting out the annuities will be particularly important for individuals and employers.”

Business owners will not be off the hook for upping their education either, they said.

Provisions of the act allow small business to more easily band together to provide retirement plans for employees, make it easier to include annuities in employer-sponsored plans, and enable many part-time employees to join retirement plans.