Scared vs. Prepared: Conducting an Operational Compliance Review
FEBRUARY 1, 2022
Are you prepared for an audit? Are your compliance procedures up to date?
No one likes being audited by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or Department of Labor (DOL), but all qualified retirement plans (defined benefit and defined contribution) may be selected for an audit. Prudent retirement plan sponsors are proactive, have up-to-date procedures and guidelines, and periodically conduct an operational compliance review, or self-audit. Taking the initiative to do a self-review can help you avoid added costs and liabilities in the future.
USI Consulting Group (USICG) finds compliance issues in at least one-third of the plans we review.
Fortune Favors the Prepared
Start to finish, a self-audit takes six weeks to six months, depending on the size of the retirement plan, depth of review and findings. The review may be:
- Broad — focused primarily on plan documents, annual filings and compliance testing
- Detailed — structured to encompass everything from internal payroll processes to spot-checking select records or transactions from the recordkeeping system
In a recent case, after an acquisition, a company engaged USICG to independently validate retirement benefit calculations of plan participants who had grandfathered benefits from a merged plan. We established extensive testing criteria, pulled sample employee/participant data, and calculated benefits to obtain expected results pursuant to the provisions of the newly merged plan document. We identified specific transactions that had the potential to be handled incorrectly following the conversion of data and alterations to the existing programming after the acquisition.
Where incorrect calculations were identified, USICG assisted the client and its outside counsel to determine appropriate corrective action. Following the necessary corrections, our consultants validated a sampling of participants to ensure that the specific errors were corrected. USICG assisted the client and its outside counsel in submitting a Voluntary Correction Program filing to the IRS. A proactive, independent review of benefit calculations enabled this organization to mitigate their risk exposure by ensuring compliance with government regulations and the plan document.
How USI Consulting Group Can Help
When considering an operational compliance plan review, it’s tempting to think, “Nothing has changed with our plan, so we’re good.” However, just because your retirement plan hasn’t changed in your eyes doesn’t mean you shouldn’t review it. New tax laws, legislative updates and organizational restructures all affect retirement plans.
An audit doesn’t have to be scary. USICG has an experienced in-house team that works extensively with our clients to perform operational compliance reviews, keeping plans up to date and compliant and avoiding penalties that can be assessed when operational defects are discovered by the IRS or DOL on audit. In fact, USICG finds compliance issues in at least one-third of the plans we review.
Next month, we’ll continue the discussion with top compliance concerns for retirement plan sponsors, which will highlight areas of focus for your plan review.
Learn more about conducting an operational compliance review of your plan and how USICG can help: contact your USICG representative, visit usicg.com or email us at email@example.com.
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