Full Scope vs. Limited Scope Audits

When a 401(k) or other retirement plan requires an annual audit, a plan administrator may have a choice to engage an audit firm to perform a full-scope audit or a limited scope audit of the financial statements. To be qualified for a limited scope audit, a bank or insurance carrier must act as a trustee …

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Supreme Court Rules that Plan Sponsors Have Duty to Monitor Investment Options

On May 18, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in the Tibble v. Edison Int’l case. In 1999 and 2002, Edison International added 6 retail mutual fund options to the available investment options for the company’s 401(k) plan. All 6 mutual funds had virtually identical institutional-class mutual funds that charge lower investment fees. …

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401K Plan Fee Assessment

When companies are selecting the services for their 401K plan, are they assessing the fees that they are paying for these services? As it has been required for these fees to be more transparent, this is something every company with a plan should be evaluating. The question becomes what is the best way to assess …

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Warning Signs Your Employer May be Misusing Your 401(k) Savings

I was browsing the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) website the other day and I came across an interesting article that talked about employer abuse of employees’ 401(k) contributions. I haven’t really thought much about this before as I have fortunately always worked for employers that I feel are trustworthy and ethical. However, the …

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Why a Quality Audit of Your Plan is so Important

The search is on for an accounting firm to perform the required audit of your employee benefit plan. In determining which proposal to accept, one must question the difference between the low end and the high end of the pricing spectrum. The intent of this blog is not to infer that everyone should hire the …

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ESOP Appraisers Will Not be Named as Fiduciaries…At Least for the Time Being

It was reported in January 2015 that the Department of Labor (DOL) will abandon the “appraiser-as-fiduciary” rule from its planned re-proposal of a broad set of rules affecting fiduciaries and prohibited transactions. This story goes back to 2010 when the DOL issued a proposed regulation that would impose a fiduciary obligation on business appraisers in …

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Exploring Roth In-Plan Conversions

Brief History The Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 authorized the establishment of Roth 401(k) accounts beginning January 1, 2006, which are post-tax retirement account. The next big thing to happen to Roth accounts was the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which opened the doors to in-plan Roth conversions. Effective immediately …

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DOL Guidance on Missing Participants

In a previously issued blog titled “Have lost Participants in your 401(k) Plan?”, the topic of missing participants was addressed prior to the Department of Labor (DOL) issuing any guidance on fiduciary responsibility of plan sponsors in that respect. The guidance issued by the DOL in Field Assistance Bulletin (FAB) No. 2014-01, outlines fiduciary duties …

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The DOL Comes Down Hard on ESOP Trustee

On June 2, 2014 the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) reached a $5.25 million settlement with GreatBanc Trust Company (GreatBanc). It was alleged that GreatBanc, as trustee to the Sierra Aluminum Company Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), allowed the plan to purchase stock from Sierra Aluminum’s co-founders and top executives for more than fair market …

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