Retirement plans are fast becoming an important tool for small businesses to attract and retain talent. Surprising even some experts, it has joined the ranks of healthcare as a major employee demand, according to a new survey. More than ever, small business owners need financial advisors to help them find their way through the thicket of plans and regulations.

According to the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Workplace Benefits Report released in June, 66% of small business owners now say retirement benefits are important to attracting new talent, and 58% say they are important to driving loyalty. "A few years ago we'd have small business owners who wouldn't put this [issue] high on the list of things that attract and retain employees," says Rich Linton, head of Small Business Retirement for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. For years, the premium had been on healthcare, which, is still a top priority among job seekers.

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