Archive for July, 2013

Retirement Plan Education

Recently, I have been involved in many conversations about life long learning.  I have been pondering the many methods and ways we receive retirement plan education.  Where do you go?

My list includes:

Local and national chapters of industry organizations

Industry publications, books, and other materials

Conferences and seminars


Online support sites

Higher education courses

Government websites

IRS retirement phone forums

IRS publications

Newsletters and enewsletters

Industry Forums

Enrollment meetings

News articles


Inevitably, the list is missing items.  Some individuals might be able to gain small gleams of information from a twitter, youtube, or facebook setting.  There certainly is no wrong answer.  The amount of information is amazing, and it amazes me how the list has grown over the past few decades.  It is exciting to imagine what it might look like in a decade.  I find it heart warming that we have this plethora of information and individuals willing to share.

The catch is that not all sources are equally credible.  I have listed some easily accessible sources on my industry and individual resources pages.  However, there are better or equally good resources that I did not list due to accessibility and expense.  What are your go to sources?  Feel free to leave a comment with your favorites.

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  If you have not already done so, please check out purchasing my book on amazon at or from the publisher at


July 30, 2013 at 3:00 pm 2 comments

Compensation and Your Retirement Plan

Do you know what definition of compensation should be used for your retirement?  Or do you know if you need to be using multiple definitions?  Have you reviewed your retirement plan document lately?  If compensation testing is required, has it been reviewed to determine its okay?  Are you calculating contributions on the right definition?

Areas to consider are not only the definition type for the particular use, but also whether compensation varies from the date of entry.  Do you have procedures in place for unusual circumstances?  How do you ensure compensation is recorded, and, if necessary, employee contributions deducted properly for events like manual checks?  Do you know how compensation and contributions should be handled in the event of a participant’s separation from employment?

I bring up these questions to help prompt plan sponsors to consider areas to review in order to ensure their retirement plan is in compliance.

Please consider buying my book, A Short Guide to Finding a High Value, Low Fee Third Party Administrator (TPA) for Your Retirement Plan, available at and My goal is to help plan sponsors make the best decision they can when selecting a  TPA. I understand how difficult a decision this can be when you do not know what skills and credentials to look for. I have created this book to ease the process and enable plan sponsors to make good choices through my insights from working in the industry.

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day!   Please be sure to sign up for my blog and follow me on twitter.

I am not selling my own or any one else’s TPA services through this blog or my book.

July 25, 2013 at 1:20 pm Leave a comment

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

But how will we have any customers?  In my last post, I discussed how this question came up at a recent ethics seminar.  As someone who has worked in retirement plan compliance for decades, I find the idea that all retirement plans are “screwed up” or “messed up” to be ridiculous.  There are clearly bad TPA’s, and I recommend purchasing my book for help in deciding on a TPA.

A TPA firm that does not actively pursue these challenging cases is likely a big factor in the quality of the plan.  A plan sponsor needs strong internal controls in order to safe guard the plan, but the same also applies to the TPA.  There are a lot of TPA’s that do not check the quality of their administration, do not prevent circumvention of procedures, and have no safe guards to protect confidentiality.  I have numerous examples from personal experience that range from inept administrators who sent incomplete tax forms and illegal amendments to management who incorrectly “fixed” work.

One example is an administrator who was instructed by her supervisor to follow the terms of the loan documents and mailed incorrect work with merely an incorrect written note to the file asserting that the loan documents did not contain the information needed.  This employee never reviewed the documents as instructed or approached her superior regarding her lack of understanding of the loan documents which did contain the necessary information.  The key is that the organization had no procedure for employees who circumvented internal review procedures, and incorrect reports were received by the client.  This example illustrates an organization that clearly does not care about their reputation or their clients.

Unfortunately, this example is not unusual for the organizations they worked for, the individuals themselves or the industry.  Small TPA’s rarely have the appropriate internal controls and procedures in place to prevent these problems. Often times, hiring and promotion are done on a feeling or perception rather than facts or merit. How to find the exception who will actually take care of you and your plan rather than just saying they will?  I recommend picking up a copy of my book from 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 at  If you have not already done so, please check out purchasing my book on amazon at or from the publisher at

July 19, 2013 at 4:41 pm Leave a comment

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July!

Have a great holiday!

July 4, 2013 at 8:20 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.


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