After years of obscurity, health savings accounts (HSAs) are now being actively purchased by employers to help them manage benefit costs.
Bank of America and JPMorgan together, as two of the major advocates for the vehicles, currently administer around 1.1 million HSAs.
That's about 30% growth over the last 12 months and reflects, among other things, the rising cost of traditional employee health insurance and the looming start of various Obamacare reforms.
Like 401(k)s, HSA assets can theoretically be actively managed, which makes this a potential business opportunity for advisors who think they will be around for the long term.
Currently, banks have stepped up as the primary HSA managers, filling the accounts with in-house investment products.
Since these accounts are designed to be drawn down during an individual's working lifetime, average balances are still low -- on average, each participant has maybe $1,500 in his or her HSA -- so anyone looking to get into this market will need to find ways to achieve scale in order to be profitable.
If nothing else, offering HSA support as an add-on to small business consulting may be a differentiator for advisors who target entrepreneurs.
The assets may be at best an incremental boost to AUM, but they should prove sticky as business owners cope with new mandates to provide some form of health coverage.