By Kevin Kelley
In recent weeks, Mayor Dennis Clough has been invited to what seems to be a steady stream of ribbon-cutting ceremonies. One of the most recent took place Aug. 14 at the new offices of iPlan Group on Clemens Road.
“We know you have a good address here in Westlake,” Clough told company officials as he wished them well in their new business.
The company specializes in providing investors with self-directed IRAs, or individual retirement accounts. Self-directed IRAs are ones in which the account owner makes the investment decisions on behalf of the retirement plan.
“It’s a way to grow your IRA by investing in what you know,” said Jill Banner, iPlan Group’s CEO and co-owner.
Unlike most IRAs, which are invested in bank accounts, certificates of deposit or mutual funds, self-directed IRAs will typically be invested in things like precious metals or, especially, real estate.
Although IRS rules typically limit annual IRA contributions to $5,000 in most cases, more can be invested in 401(k) plans, which iPlan also handles. The company can also handle rollovers of IRAs, in which a large amount of money has built up over time.
While the investor selects the investment, iPlan Group – for a flat fee – processes the paperwork and ensures that the investment remains compliant with IRS regulations.
IPlan Group’s owners believe self-directed IRAs will be a growing investment tool in coming years.
Gary Elsmore, iPlan’s president and co-owner, notes that American investors have opened more than 50 million IRA accounts.
“Fewer than 3 percent of IRA investors understand that these options are available to them,” said Elsmore, who has 30 years of experience in the financial services business.
Banner and Elsmore met through a mutual friend around the time Elsmore was looking for a partner to launch the company, recalled Banner, a Westlake resident.
IPlan Group opened its office June 4. The company now has six full-time employees and one part-timer.
Banner and Elsmore chose Westlake as their headquarters because it was a good location for the employees they began hiring, Elsmore said.
He was also impressed with the quality and rental rates of office space in the city.
“There were some nice choices,” he said of available Westlake office space.