Selling retirement plans is important, and it’s easier than many financial advisors realize.

Executives from the Simsbury, Conn.-based retirement plan arm of Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. delivered that message here recently at a seminar on opportunities in the retirement plan market.

Hartford organized the seminar to promote To Sell Or Not To Sell…Employer Retirement Plans, a book written by Tom Foster and Todd Thompson. Foster and Thompson both work in Hartford’s retirement plan business.

Only half of companies with 100 or fewer employees have retirement plans, and the retirement plan market is growing 10% per year, said Jim Davey, a senior vice president at Hartford.

“You look at advisors and say, ‘How can you ignore this space, if you want to be in the financial services sector?’” Davey said.

Despite the size of the opportunity, fewer than 20% of financial advisors actually consider selling employer retirement plans, Davey reported.

Many advisors overlook the retirement plan market because they believe selling plans takes too long, Thompson said.

“That was probably very true 10 years ago,” Thompson said. “The average plan took a year to sell.”

Today, technology and provisions of the Pension Protect Act of 2006 that reduce liability for advisors who serve as plan fiduciaries have shortened the sales cycle to less than 90 days, Thompson said.

Selling retirement plans can generate about $5 to $7 in “ancillary opportunities” for every $1 of retirement plan business brought in, Thompson estimated.

Ancillary opportunities include chances to sell products such as key-person insurance and insurance for funding buy-sell arrangements, Thompson said.