Employee Benefits Update October/November 2019

This issue’s topics include:

Will a merger or acquisition upend your 401(k) plan?

Beware of ERISA entanglements and higher costs

Companies contemplating buying another company, or a division of one, must assess and plan for the impact on their 401(k) plan, and that of the company they’re acquiring, before pulling the trigger. The same applies for companies on the receiving end of an acquisition (though they might not be able to do as much if they’re the acquisition target). This article reviews the important decisions that companies must make regarding 401(k) plans when part of a merger or acquisition. A short sidebar reviews two ways to merge 401(k) plans.

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IRS liberalizes availability of self-correction program for plan “failures”

A recent IRS Revenue Procedure allows plan sponsors to jump through fewer hoops to fix several so-called “plan failures” relating to plan loans. Specifically, plan sponsors can now fix more categories of loan glitches using the streamlined Self-Correction Program (SCP) under the IRS’s umbrella Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System, instead of the more burdensome Voluntary Correction Program (VCP). This article highlights what plan sponsors need to know about the changes.

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Warn participants of the risks of front-loaded deferrals

Some 401(k) plan participants have been known to shoot themselves in the foot when taking aim at higher investment returns. Some of these individuals may not be open to advice, but plan sponsors can still provide information about the dangers of firing blindly and expecting to hit a target. This article looks at a case in point: front-loading deferrals in hopes of boosting returns over the course of the year.

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New exempt status income threshold could impact 401(k) plan costs

The 401(k) plan employer contribution formula for hourly employees that includes overtime pay may increase plan costs next year — along with overtime pay outlays. That’s because in late September the U.S. Department of Labor published a revised rule (effective January 1) increasing the income threshold for overtime pay eligibility. This short article reviews the rule and what it means for plan sponsors.

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Compliance alert

This feature lists a few key tax reporting deadlines for October and November.

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As always, we hope you enjoy this edition of our newsletter and we look forward to receiving your feedback. Should you have any questions regarding the information contained in the attached materials or our Employee Benefit Plan Services, please feel free to contact me directly.

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Join our Employee Benefit Plan Resources group on LinkedIn for more frequent updates on recent developments and best practices and discuss related topics with your peers.

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Audit & Accounting Update: August 2019

At Insero, we make it our business to stay abreast of the latest trends and technical updates in accounting, tax, and audit and we understand how important timely updates are to our clients. As a member of the RSM US Alliance, we also have the benefit of access to the resources and subject matter experts of RSM US LLP (formerly known as McGladrey LLP). This includes regular updates on the latest financial reporting insights. We hope that you find these informative and useful, and invite you to reach out to us if you have any questions.

 

Employee benefit plans

Revised reporting on financial statements of plans subject to ERISA
A recent SAS addresses the auditor’s reporting on financial statements of employee benefit plans subject to ERISA.

 

Accounting

Monitoring inflation when applying ASC 830
The Center for Audit Quality International Practices Task Force framework can be used for monitoring inflation statistics.

Transitioning away from LIBOR
The FASB has added a project to its agenda to address accounting changes necessitated by reference rate reform.

Proposed narrow-scope amendments to credit losses standard
The FASB recently issued a proposed ASU to address issues raised by stakeholders during the implementation of ASU 2016-13.

Proposed deferred CECL effective date and the definition of an SRC
Our article discusses the FASB’s proposed deferred CECL effective date and the SEC’s definition of a smaller reporting company.

Second FASB Staff Q&A document: Estimating expected credit losses
The FASB staff recently issued a Q&A document to address more than a dozen frequently asked questions related to ASU 2016-13.

Source: RSM US LLP
Used with permission as a member of the RSM US Alliance
http://rsmus.com/our-insights/newsletters/financial-reporting-insights.html

As always, we hope you enjoy this edition of our newsletter and we look forward to receiving your feedback. Should you have any questions regarding the information contained in the attached materials or our service offerings, please contact us directly.

Employee Benefits Update August/September 2019

This issue’s topics include:

Is it time to give a fresh look at “alts” in retirement plans?

Are many plan participants gaining the benefit of a truly broad diversification of retirement portfolio assets? The answer might depend on whether they’re covered by a defined benefit (DB) plan or a defined contribution (DC) plan. This article takes a look at why DB plans offering “alternative” investments, also known as alts, may make a big difference.

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Time for class

Widening the scope of training for retirement plan committee members

Learning the ropes of overseeing a retirement plan isn’t a “one and done” exercise. Periodic training updates for retirement plan committee members acting in a fiduciary capacity is a prudent approach to ensuring that they maintain the current knowledge essential to carry out their duties. This article reviews why it’s important to ensure that new committee members get a strong grounding in plan operations and their responsibilities promptly on being appointed to a plan committee, if not before. A sidebar discusses whether following the “prudent man rule” is sufficient for retirement plan fiduciaries to perform their duties effectively.

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DB plan de-risking strategies in full swing

Private sector employers have been retreating from the defined benefit (DB) pension model for decades. This is largely motivated by a desire to “de-risk” the company from a financial obligation that’s as variable as financial market behavior. More recently, holdouts on that trend have been given new motivation to depart from the DB design: escalating Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) premiums. 2015 legislation set the stage for annual increases through 2019, after which the increases will be indexed for inflation. This article examines what plan sponsors of DB plans need to know about de-risking their plans.

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Make your SPDs user-friendly

The text of a summary plan description (SPD) is usually the product of a tug-of-war between cautious ERISA attorneys who worry about the use of general, simple statements, and human resources professionals familiar with their average employees’ reading level. The attorneys often tug harder, and the result is a document that many employees pick up, glance at, and promptly toss. This article discusses why that’s not a good outcome.

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Compliance alert

This feature lists a few key tax reporting deadlines for September.

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adults business meeting, training for retirement plan committee members

As always, we hope you enjoy this edition of our newsletter and we look forward to receiving your feedback. Should you have any questions regarding the information contained in the attached materials or our Employee Benefit Plan Services, please feel free to contact me directly.

Want to learn more?

Join our Employee Benefit Plan Resources group on LinkedIn for more frequent updates on recent developments and best practices and discuss related topics with your peers.

Join the Group

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Employee Benefits Update June/July 2019

This issue’s topics include:

Help retirees plan their retirement spending, survey says

Long after defined benefit (DB) plans became scarce in the private sector, many employees still mourn their departure. With DB plans, participants are given an estimate of their monthly benefit at retirement. However, with defined contribution (DC) plans, participants often lack confidence in their understanding of how much their DC plan will provide in monthly income when they start drawing down their accounts. This article discusses why more and more 401(k) plan sponsors are beginning to try to address this concern in various ways — without revisiting the DB plan model. A short sidebar provides some statistics for plan sponsors on keeping plan assets from being transferred out of the plan.

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ERISA disclosure 101: A quick overview of plan sponsor obligations

Qualified retirement plan sponsors are subject to many disclosure requirements. This article provides a “top ten” (and thus incomplete) list of key required defined contribution plan disclosure documents from the Department of Labor (DOL), offered to reinforce a general understanding of those requirements. A note of caution: This list doesn’t include IRS disclosure requirements. Also, while disclosures are generally directed to plan participants, a plan beneficiary, in the case of a participant’s death, typically would also be covered by the disclosure rules.

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Not every plan that benefits retirees is an ERISA plan

The fact that a compensation arrangement can provide a substantial source of income in retirement doesn’t make it subject to ERISA. That was the result the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit delivered to three former partners of Booz Allen, a consulting company. This article reviews the case, which serves as a helpful primer on the definitional limits of an ERISA “retirement” plan.

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Appeals court sacks spouse’s attempt for QDRO

What makes a domestic relations order a qualified domestic relations order, or QDRO? The distinction is essential for retirement plan administrators when deciding whether to accept a state court’s instructions to turn over some portion of a plan participant’s (or, in some cases, a deceased participant’s) retirement plan assets to an “alternate payee.” This article briefly looks at this difference, as it was part of a legal battle waged by the former spouse of a deceased professional football player covered by the NFL’s retirement plan.

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Compliance alert

This feature lists a few key tax reporting deadlines for June and July.

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People sitting at a table plan for retirement

As always, we hope you enjoy this edition of our newsletter and we look forward to receiving your feedback. Should you have any questions regarding the information contained in the attached materials or our Employee Benefit Plan Services, please feel free to contact me directly.

Want to learn more?

Join our Employee Benefit Plan Resources group on LinkedIn for more frequent updates on recent developments and best practices and discuss related topics with your peers.

Join the Group

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Audit & Accounting Update: May 18, 2017

At Insero, we make it our business to stay abreast of the latest trends and technical updates in accounting, tax, and audit and we understand how important timely updates are to our clients. As a member of the RSM US Alliance, we also have the benefit of access to the resources and subject matter experts of RSM US LLP (formerly known as McGladrey LLP). This includes regular updates on the latest financial reporting insights. We hope that you find these informative and useful, and invite you to reach out to us if you have any questions.

New Revenue Recognition Resource Center goes live
RSM US LLP recently launched a Revenue Recognition Resource Center with information about the new guidance in FASB ASC Topic 606.
Read more

IRS permits self-certification for safe-harbor hardship distributions
Two recent IRS memorandums provide guidance on plan participant hardship distribution substantiation requirements.
Read more

Audit & Accounting Guide for employee benefit plans updated
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Audit & Accounting Guide, Employee Benefit Plans, was recently updated.
Read more

Proposed reporting on financial statements of plans subject to ERISA
A recent AICPA proposal addresses the auditor reporting model for audits of employee benefit plans that are subject to ERISA.
Read more

 

Audit and Accounting Updates for Business Owners and Financial Professionals

Source: RSM US LLP
Used with permission as a member of the RSM US Alliance
http://rsmus.com/our-insights/newsletters/financial-reporting-insights.html

As always, we hope you enjoy this edition of our newsletter and we look forward to receiving your feedback. Should you have any questions regarding the information contained in the attached materials or our service offerings, please contact us directly.

Employee Benefits Update: February/March 2017

This issue’s topics include:

Get your fiduciary house in order
DOL’s newest regulations require plan sponsor action

The majority of the U.S. Department of Labor’s complex regulations mandating fiduciary status for individuals dealing with retirement investment decision-making involve investment advisors. But the regulations, which are scheduled to take effect on April 10, 2017, also require plan sponsors to take certain steps. Remember, plan sponsors are always the fiduciary, and the regulations expand the definition of fiduciary status. A sidebar discusses the distinction between investment education and investment recommendations or advice.

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Who’s to blame?
Court equitably apportions fiduciary misdeeds

When a fiduciary breach occurs, some fiduciaries may be more culpable than others. And when that’s the case, the court can order those parties to indemnify other fiduciaries who were, despite their technical status as fiduciaries, without blame. This article summarizes a recent case of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit where the court equitably apportioned relief in a fiduciary duty setting.

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Hardship withdrawal programs require strict administration

While not required, most 401(k) plans offer a hardship withdrawal option. The IRS recently updated its guidance on how plan sponsors can remedy errors in the administration of hardship withdrawals. This article highlights the basics of hardship withdrawals and how to correct mistakes when administering a hardship withdrawal program.

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2016 vs. 2017 retirement plan limits

This chart contains updated retirement plan limits for 2017.

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Compliance alert

This feature lists a few key tax reporting deadlines for February through April.

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As always, we hope you enjoy this edition of our newsletter and we look forward to receiving your feedback. Should you have any questions regarding the information contained in the attached materials or our service offerings, please feel free to contact me directly.

Want to learn more?

Join our Employee Benefit Plan Resources group on LinkedIn for more frequent updates on recent developments and best practices and discuss related topics with your peers.

Join the Group

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Employee Benefits Update: Year End 2016

This issue’s topics include:

Using eligibility rules to control plan enrollment

Plan sponsors have more flexibility than they may realize when it comes to setting eligibility rules for 401(k) plan participants. Even though ERISA sets many rules for eligibility, plan sponsors have leeway to meet the demands of the employment market. This article offers some thoughts for plan sponsors to consider when determining plan enrollment.

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Too many investment options may increase litigation risk

Giving plan participants a wide range of investment options is a good thing — but only to a point. That’s one of multiple allegations in recent class action lawsuits filed against several prominent universities. This article reviews recent litigation, and offers a cautionary note for plan sponsors who offer a high number of investment options.

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Where’s Waldo?
Locating missing plan participants

It’s not uncommon for previously active employed plan participants to fall off the radar screen. They include retirees and former employees that move away without informing the plan administrator. Before anyone realizes it, they become “lost” participants. This article sets out the steps to take when dealing with these participants.

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IRS permits high-earner Roth IRA rollover opportunity

As highly compensated employee (HCE) 401(k) plan participants approach retirement, a potentially useful tax-efficient IRA rollover technique may be a valuable savings tool. This brief article reviews IRS rules about how HCEs can allocate both pretax and after-tax employee contribution 401(k) assets between standard and Roth IRAs.

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Compliance alert

This feature lists a few key tax reporting deadlines for December and January.

Read More

As always, we hope you enjoy this edition of our newsletter and we look forward to receiving your feedback. Should you have any questions regarding the information contained in the attached materials or our service offerings, please feel free to contact me directly.

Want to learn more?

Join our Employee Benefit Plan Resources group on LinkedIn for more frequent updates on recent developments and best practices and discuss related topics with your peers.

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Employee Benefits Update: October/November 2016

This issue’s topics include:

Small employers on notice
Fiduciary focus important for any size employer

One recent lawsuit alleging fiduciary duty violations caught the attention of many in the employee benefits business not because of the nature of the charges, but instead because it involved a small employer. A string of large employers have faced similar charges and ultimately compensated participants. Even though the plaintiffs later withdrew their complaint, this article examines why the filing of this case matters. A sidebar offers several methods of allocating recordkeeping fees equitably among participants.

Damberg et al v. LaMettry’s Collision Inc., 0:16-cv-01335 (Minn. D.C. 2016)

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IRS places high priority on retirement plan internal controls

When IRS examiners check under the hood of many retirement plans, they often find a lack of sufficient internal controls. The consequences can be severe — even if an IRS audit doesn’t turn up any other problems. The worst-case scenario? Theft of plan assets that is financially damaging to participants and your company, and can also lead to plan disqualification. This article highlights the importance of internal controls for both retirement plan sponsors and their service providers.

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Fair Labor Standards Act update
New employee exempt status threshold rules affect retirement plans

Changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that take effect December 1 could have implications for retirement plans. The changes affect what forms of compensation businesses use to calculate employer contributions to their qualified retirement plans and determine highly compensated employee (HCE) status. This article reviews the new exemption rules and how they affect retirement plans.

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Hybrid pension plan interest credit rule amendment deadline nears

The deadline for hybrid pension sponsors to adopt plan amendments bringing them into compliance with key provisions of final IRS hybrid plan regulations is fast approaching: January 1, 2017 (2019 for collectively bargained plans). This article reviews the deadline for transitional amendments to satisfy the regulations’ market rate-of-return rule.

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Compliance alert

This feature lists a few key tax reporting deadlines for October and November.

Read More

As always, we hope you enjoy this edition of our newsletter and we look forward to receiving your feedback. Should you have any questions regarding the information contained in the attached materials or our service offerings, please feel free to contact me directly.

Want to learn more?

Join our Employee Benefit Plan Resources group on LinkedIn for more frequent updates on recent developments and best practices and discuss related topics with your peers.

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What are you forgetting?

Reviewing commonly overlooked fiduciary duties

Although retirement plan fiduciaries take their jobs seriously, it can be hard to cover all the bases. That’s understandable, considering the broad scope of fiduciary responsibility as well as the dynamic nature of the retirement plan designs, investment management and legal interpretations of fiduciary duty. Some common pitfalls include failing to identify the plan’s fiduciaries, insufficiently training fiduciaries and spending too much time on inappropriate investments.

Don't forget!

Knowing your fiduciaries

Do you know the identities of all your plan fiduciaries? Fiduciaries should know who else carries the responsibilities. Having fiduciary status — and the liability associated with the role — is a powerful motivator to pay careful attention to the management of the retirement plan. However, the scope of your fiduciary duty varies according to the role taken. Let’s take a closer look at the types of plan fiduciaries:

Named fiduciaries. ERISA requires the existence of named fiduciaries. The plan document identifies the corporate entity or individual serving as the named fiduciary. If they aren’t immediately identified, the plan document will set the requirements for naming them. The named fiduciary can designate and give instructions to plan trustees.

Plan trustees. These are people who have exclusive authority and discretion to manage and control the plan assets. The trustee can be subject to the direction of a named fiduciary. These plan fiduciaries have a broad scope of responsibility.

Board of directors and committee members. ERISA considers individuals — typically the corporate board of directors, who choose plan trustees and administrative committee members — fiduciaries. The scope of their fiduciary duty focuses on how they fulfill that specific function, and not on everything that happens with the plan itself. The law also sees as fiduciaries people who exercise discretion in key decisions about plan administration, including members of an administrative committee, if such a committee exists.

Investment advisors. The named fiduciary can appoint one or more investment managers for the plan’s assets. People or firms who manage plan assets are plan fiduciaries. However, individuals employed by third party service providers can fall into different fiduciary categories. The investment manager who has complete discretion over plan asset investments (known as an ERISA 3(38) fiduciary) has the greatest fiduciary responsibility.

In contrast, a corporation or individual who offers investment advice, but doesn’t actually call the shots (an ERISA 3(21) fiduciary), has a lesser fiduciary responsibility. The advice can be about investments or the selection of the investment manager.

Service providers. If you use service providers, be sure the service agreement clearly specifies when a service provider is acting in a fiduciary capacity.

Anyone who exercises discretionary authority over any vital facet of plan operations falls under a catch-all category of a “functional fiduciary.”

Training your fiduciaries

Given the crucial role fiduciaries play, they must be properly trained for the role. This is a step that’s often neglected and can be of particular concern for company employees who don’t have full-time jobs related to running the plan.

Failing to properly train fiduciaries to carry out their roles may represent a fiduciary breach on the part of the other fiduciaries responsible for selecting them. The U.S. Department of Labor is known to focus on this when it reviews a plan’s operations. Also, have named fiduciaries (such as individually named trustees or members of plan committees) accept in writing their role as a fiduciary.

Providing proper insurance

A sometimes overlooked task includes properly protecting your plan’s fiduciaries against costly litigation and penalties with insurance designed for this purpose. Companies generally cover fiduciaries who also serve as corporate directors or officers through directors and officers or employment practices insurance policies. These generally don’t extend to fiduciary breaches.

And remember, ERISA fidelity bonds protect the plan’s assets from theft or fraud, not from fiduciary breaches. ERISA requires a fidelity bond, but not fiduciary liability insurance. However, given that anyone who is a fiduciary is personally liable for any violation of their fiduciary duties, you should have fiduciary liability coverage, often called an ERISA rider.

Focusing on the wrong investments

Stock market volatility and speculation about changes in Federal Reserve policies (and their resulting financial market impact) can lead plan fiduciaries to rely on retirement fund investment alternatives that focus on narrow sectors and strategies. This can divert fiduciaries’ attention from the investment options where most of their participants are parking the majority of their retirement savings: stable value and target date funds (TDFs).

Neglecting the big picture

Ultimately, retirement plans should prepare employees for retirement. How well that’s accomplished is often referred to as participant “outcomes.” Fiduciaries with broad responsibility for plans that ignore the big picture ultimately are failing participants, and possibly making themselves vulnerable to a charge of neglecting their fiduciary duties. Reviewing the common mistakes regularly can help you avoid making them.

Should you have any questions regarding the information contained in the attached materials or our service offerings, please feel free to contact me directly.

Want to learn more?

Join our Employee Benefit Plan Resources group on LinkedIn for more frequent updates on recent developments and best practices and discuss related topics with your peers.

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Employee Benefits Update: August/September 2016

This issue’s topics include:

DOL fiduciary rule rocks plan investment advice landscape

When the final version of the U.S. Department of Labor’s fiduciary standards rule for advisors to retirement plans was issued in April, the wait for the long-anticipated regulatory package was over. With the benefit of the intervening months, the implications for plan sponsors have become clearer. This article highlights what plan sponsors need to know about the new rule. A sidebar looks at what constitutes investment “advice.”

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