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9 Free On-Line DOL Resources for 401k Plan Sponsors

June 08
15:22 2010

US_Department_of_Labor_300Where’s the best place for the 401k plan sponsor to go for free help on their fiduciary duties and responsibilities? The United States Department of Labor (DOL) regulates institutional retirement plans. Many guidelines come from the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), but subsequent legislation (including possibly new Congressional action this year) also sets down regulations. The DOL has put together several free on-line “booklets” and “fact sheets” to assist and inform 401k plan sponsors and fiduciaries. Here’s the sticking point every fiduciary must know. Since the DOL specifically warnstheir booklets are not intended to provide legal, tax or investment advice, these generic summaries do not replace the need to hire appropriate consultants.

  1. Fiduciary Education Campaign: Getting It Right – Know Your Fiduciary ResponsibilitiesThe Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) created the Fiduciary Education Campaign as a compliance assistance initiative for employers and service providers. Many of the booklets cited here are part of this campaign.
  2. Meeting Your Fiduciary Responsibilities – To meet their responsibilities as plan sponsors, employers need to understand some basic ERISA rules.  ERISA sets standards of conduct for all plan fiduciaries (which includes any employee or vendor that has some function related to the management of plan assets).  This publication provides an overview of the basic fiduciary responsibilities applicable to retirement plans under the law.
  3. What You Should Know About Your Retirement Plan – This comprehensive booklet provides ten chapters and an extensive glossary. It’s an excellent (though exhaustive) starting point.
  4. Tips For Selecting And Monitoring Service Providers For Your Employee Benefit Plan – This fact sheet contains a dozen helpful hints for the 401k plan sponsor seeking to hire another professional in any field to assist with the creation, operations and monitoring of the plan and its investments.
  5. Selecting And Monitoring Pension Consultants – This fact sheet offers ten questions every 401k plan sponsor should ask any candidate seeking to provide investment management services to the plan.
  6. Selecting An Auditor For Your Employee Benefit Plan – For plans with 100 or more participants, Federal law requires the plan sponsor hire an independent auditor to review the plan as part of their annual Form 5500 filing.  This booklet features ten questions to ask potential candidates.
  7. Getting Ready for Changes In Filing Your Plan’s Annual Return/Report Form 5500 – This fact sheet offers a quick snapshot of the changes in Form 5500 for the filing year 2009 (i.e., those forms that will be filed this year.
  8. Reporting and Disclosure Guide for Employee Benefit Plans – This 21-page booklet (actually a .pdf file) offers a comprehensive overview of all reporting requirements in an easy-to-read format.
  9. Understanding Retirement Plan Fees And Expenses – The DOL believes 401k plan sponsors need to better understand and evaluate their plan’s fees and expenses. This booklet focuses on those fees and expenses specific to 401(k) plans.

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Christopher Carosa, CTFA

Christopher Carosa, CTFA

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