Archive for June, 2013

But How Will We Have Any Customers? Part I of II

But how will we have any customers?  I was surprised to hear this refrain at a benefits ethics class as an excuse for not completing plan corrections.   The individual making the claim felt that all plans are “screwed up” and did not want to fix plan errors.  My first reaction is if your TPA is constantly complaining about non-compliant clients, they are likely not serving their customers.   The exceptions are TPA firms that seek out to assess and clean up retirement plans.  Personally, I know of several great firms across the country that practically specialize in that area.

My concern is the first type of TPA.  Is appropriate communication going on between the vendor and plan sponsor?  Has the TPA ensured the plan sponsor knows their responsibilities?  Has the vendor clarified that they are following the terms of their document with their vendor in regards to compensation, enrollment, distributions, loans, and other details?  Is the TPA spending enough time servicing the client by reviewing potential changes that might impact the plan? To learn more about selecting TPA’s, please consider purchasing my book at one of the websites listed below.

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day!  Please sign up for my blog and follow me on twitter @ChristineGurney.  Please like my facebook author page athttp://www.facebook.com/ChristineGurneyHsiung.  If you have not already done so, please check out purchasing my book on amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Short-Guide-Finding-Value-Administrator/dp/147912821X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354850566&sr=8-1&keywords=christine+gurney+hsiung or from the publisher at https://www.createspace.com/3964647.

June 24, 2013 at 3:03 pm Leave a comment

Internal Controls for Your Retirement Plan

One of the best ways to maintain a problem-free retirement plan is strong internal controls. It is likely that your business already has internal controls in place to prevent errors and other problems that also aid in retirement plan administration. For example, balancing financial statements periodically to confirm deposits are made.

Procedures and assigned responsibilities regarding payroll, enrollment, disclosures, and investments need to be maintained. Records regarding participants and plan documents need to be retained. Documentation and review of plan design, service providers, and investment objectives are critical. Retirement plans are required to be administered in the best interest of participants and factors affecting selection, changes, performance, fees, and contracts should be preserved. These guidelines extend to ensuring you understand who and what your service providers are handling for your plan.

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day! Please sign up for my blog and follow me on twitter @ChristineGurney. Please like my facebook author page at http://www.facebook.com/ChristineGurneyHsiung.  If you have not already done so, please check out purchasing my book on amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Short-Guide-Finding-Value-Administrator/dp/147912821X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354850566&sr=8-1&keywords=christine+gurney+hsiung or from the publisher at https://www.createspace.com/3964647.

June 17, 2013 at 9:19 am 1 comment

Potential Troubles for Your Retirement Plan

I was fortunate enough to attend the 2013 ERPA Conference in Denver this year. An area that I felt was useful to share with plan sponsors and the rest of the industry were potential problems with your retirement plan. In addition, an announcement was made that the IRS will be including a tool, called a QSAT, on their website this summer. The QSAT will be a tool to help plan sponsors self-identify problems with their plans. As a result, plan sponsors can proactively fix their plans.

In the meantime, common potential problem spots for your plan are summarized. Common issues that every plan sponsor and their service providers should be reviewing are concerns regarding loans and hardships, eligibility requirements, and compensation. In particular, the retirement plan document needs to be followed in all areas. Appropriate documentation for loans and hardships need to be maintained. Compensation testing and the use of the appropriate definition for different aspects of administration such as contribution allocation and compliance testing are other areas of concern. This is not an all-inclusive list but a starting point for review.

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day!  Please sign up for my blog and follow me on twitter @ChristineGurney.  Please like my facebook author page athttp://www.facebook.com/ChristineGurneyHsiung.  If you have not already done so, please check out purchasing my book on amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Short-Guide-Finding-Value-Administrator/dp/147912821X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354850566&sr=8-1&keywords=christine+gurney+hsiung or from the publisher at https://www.createspace.com/3964647.

June 11, 2013 at 8:48 am Leave a comment

ERPA’s ?!

Spoiler Alert!   I have already announced on my twitter feed (be sure to follow @ChristineGurney if you do not already) that I will have an upcoming series of posts regarding the 2013 ERPA Conference.  For those of you who were unable to come to Denver or are just plain curious about the excitement you missed, I am going to include a summary of highlights that I feel are valuable for plan sponsors and industry insiders!

As a bonus this week, I wanted to include a spoiler alert and a brief recap on what an ERPA is and why ERPA’s are important.

What is this ERPA thing anyway? An Enrolled Retirement Plan Agent (ERPA) has met extensive compliance, plan document, administrative operations and reporting testing requirements.

Why are ERPA’s important?  ERPA’s have to meet rigorous continuing education requirements and ethical standards.

How are ERPA’s different?  ERPA’s, along with EA’s, are enrolled to represent plan sponsors on retirement plan matters before the IRS and have passed tax compliance and background checks.  Other individuals such as CPA’s and attorney’s may be able to do the same without one of these designations, but neither have met the testing standards regarding retirement matters that Enrolled Retirement Plan Agents (ERPA’s) and Enrolled Actuaries (EA’s) have accomplished.  Both professionals are excellent resources and crucial for businesses, but plan sponsors should be aware of when they should be utilized.

I am looking forward to sharing my insights with you in the upcoming weeks!

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day!  Please sign up for my blog and follow me on twitter @ChristineGurney.  Please like my facebook author page athttp://www.facebook.com/ChristineGurneyHsiung.  If you have not already done so, please check out purchasing my book on amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Short-Guide-Finding-Value-Administrator/dp/147912821X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354850566&sr=8-1&keywords=christine+gurney+hsiung or from the publisher at https://www.createspace.com/3964647.

June 5, 2013 at 3:56 pm Leave a comment

Share, Share, Share!

If you sponsor a retirement plan, do you share your plan document with all affected parties?  Does payroll know what compensation to use for contributions?  Do your vendors know what you are using?  Are enrollment provisions being followed?  Are participants receiving Summary Plan Descriptions?

As we are approaching the second half of the year, it is a good time to remind businesses to ensure that retirement plan’s document provisions need to be shared.  Effective organizations share information, and benefit plans are no exception.

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day!  Please sign up for my blog and follow me on twitter @ChristineGurney.  Please like my facebook author page at http://www.facebook.com/ChristineGurneyHsiung.  If you have not already done so, please check out purchasing my book on amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Short-Guide-Finding-Value-Administrator/dp/147912821X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354850566&sr=8-1&keywords=christine+gurney+hsiung or from the publisher at https://www.createspace.com/3964647.

June 3, 2013 at 7:07 pm Leave a comment


Christine Gurney

A pension professional who shares her thoughts and ideas about the pension world for industry members and anyone else interested.

@ChristineGurney

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