Helping Benefit Plan Sponsors Fulfill Fiduciary Duties
The U.S. Department of Labor and Internal Revenue Service have intensified their scrutiny of employee benefit plans in recent years. The primary focus of these agencies is to ensure plan sponsors meet their fiduciary responsibilities to the plan’s participants. Plan sponsors who fail to meet those responsibilities may be personally liable for restoring losses and subject to steep fines and penalties.
The professionals at Bennett Thrasher have years of experience administering, auditing and consulting on employee benefit plans. Our employee benefit plan audit team can help ensure you fulfill your fiduciary duties in a cost-effective and timely manner.
Complying with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and related regulations often require hiring third-party service providers with specific expertise. However, the plan sponsor is ultimately responsible for plan operations. Although you can share fiduciary responsibilities, you cannot entirely delegate them to outside service providers.
Whether you are a CFO, your plan’s named trustee or other executive with control over the plan’s administration, you can be held personally liable for any failure to:
- Operate the plan in the best interest of its participants
- Follow the terms of the plan documents
- Diversify plan investments
- Pay reasonable plan expenses
- Act prudently in carrying out duties
To meet these fiduciary duties, management must remain involved with all aspects of plan operations, and review the control activities of all service providers on a regular basis to be assured plan assets are protected.
For employee benefit plans with 100 or more participants, one of the most important fiduciary duties is the selection of an independent public accountant. Auditors who lack experience may not know the finer nuances of employee benefit plan operations and regulations, leading to audit deficiencies that can negatively impact the plan sponsor and participants.
As a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Employee Benefit Audit Quality Center, Bennett Thrasher has experience providing full-scope and limited-scope audits of employee benefit plans ranging in size from 100 participants to more than 20,000 participants and assets into the billions. Specifically, we assist with the following types of benefit plans:
- Defined benefit plans
- Defined contribution plans
- 401(k), 403(b) and 401(a) retirement plans
- Employee Stock Option Plans (ESOP)
- Profit-sharing plans
- Health and welfare benefit plans
Our highly qualified employee benefit plan auditors have the expertise needed to ensure your employee benefit plan meets all DOL and IRS requirements.
Our experienced professionals understand that the employee benefit plan audit is just one item on your ever-expanding list of responsibilities. That’s why we provide more than just a quality audit. We can also help you:
- Review and evaluate plan processes, procedures and your overall control environment
- Timely response to questions, issue resolution and audit completion with continuity of staffing year to year
- Understand new and emerging employee benefit plan regulations and the impact those regulations have on your plan
- Connect with investment advisors, plan custodians, third party administrators, Form 5500 tax preparers, ERISA attorneys and other professionals who can provide the right level of service for your organization
- Navigate compliance issues and correct any errors in your benefit plan records or documentation
Our breadth of services will help prepare you to deal with the complexities of benefit plan design, administration, compliance and taxation.
Bennett Thrasher believes in serving our clients by building trust through insight and involvement.
If your employee benefit plan has recently exceeded the threshold of 100 participants or you’re looking for an experienced partner to assist with your employee benefit plan audit, we can help. Contact Matt Grosvenor or Alana Mueller to schedule a consultation.