Individual retirement accounts (commonly shortened to IRAs) allow flexibility and diversity when making investments. Whether investing in stocks, bonds, real estate, private companies, or other types of investments, IRAs can be useful tools when saving for retirement. While traditional IRAs limit investments to more standard options, such as stocks and bonds, a self-directed IRA allows for investments in things less standard, such as private companies and real estate.
Like a traditional IRA, to open a self-directed IRA you must find a custodian to hold the account. Banks and brokerage firms can often act as custodians, but careful research must be done to ensure that they will handle the types of investments you’re planning on making. Since custodians simply hold the account for you, and often cannot advise you on investments, finding a financial advisor that specializes in IRA investments can help ensure due diligence.
With IRA investments, investors need to be extremely careful that it follows regulations enforced by the SEC. If regulations are not adhered to, the IRA owner can face severe tax penalties. For example, you cannot use your IRA to invest in companies that either pay you a salary or that you’ve lent money to, as it is viewed by the SEC as a prohibited transaction. Additionally, you cannot use your IRA to invest in a company belonging to either yourself or a direct family member. If the IRA’s funds are used in these ways, there could be an early withdrawal penalty of 10% plus regular income tax on the funds if the owner is younger than 59.5 years old.
Since the IRA’s custodian cannot validate the legitimacy of a potential investment, investors need to be responsible for proper due diligence. However, since some investors are not aware of this, it is a common tactic for those looking to commit fraud to say that the investment opportunity has been approved by the custodian. The SEC warns that high-reward investments are typically high-risk, so the investor should be sure they fully understand the investment and are in the position to take a potential loss. The SEC also recommends that investors ask questions to see if the issuer or investment has been registered. Either the SEC itself or state securities regulators should be considered trusted, unbiased sources for investors.
If all requirements are met, the investor can freely invest in private companies using their IRAs. However, once investments have been made, the investor will need to keep track of them, since it is not up to their custodian. To keep all records of investments in a central location, investors can use KoreConX’s Portfolio Management, as part of its all-in-one platform. The portfolio management tool allows investors to utilize a single dashboard for all of their investments, easily accessing all resources provided by their companies. Information including key reports, news, and other documents are readily available to help investors make smarter, more informed investments.
Once investors have done their due diligence and have been careful to avoid instances that could result in penalties and taxes, investments with IRAs can be beneficial. Since it allows for a diverse investment portfolio, those who choose to invest in multiple different ways are, in general, safer. Additionally, IRAs are tax-deferred, and contributions can be deducted from the owner’s taxable income.