What are the requirements to be considered a union retirement plan?

Union retirement plans are eligible for special coverage and non-discrimination testing rules. However, being a union retirement plan

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is not a state of mind. It is not sufficient for an employer to sit down with a leader from the employees and come to an agreement about the employee’s retirement benefits. There are specific requirements for a plan to be considered collectively bargained and a union plan:

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Will we have a dedicated account manager?

In the sales process, an employer may or may not meet anyone from the 401(k) TPA’s office. If the employer does meet someone from the TPA, it is often the TPA firm owner or a polished salesman with good hair. But, after the plan is an established client of the TPA firm, who will the employer talk to when they have questions? The TPA firm will probably be available for escalated issues, but not for day to day questions. The salesman will be on to the next prospective client. TPA firms typically use one of two service models: a team approach or a dedicated account manager.

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Are any of your operations internationally based?

Some 401(k) TPA firms have an internationally based subsidiary or outsource to international outsourcing firms. As the economy becomes more and more global, this should not be surprising. A variety of professional services, including accounting and legal services, are increasingly being outsourced abroad. International outsourcing is a trend that is likely to continue. Some employers may prefer to work with a firm that only has US operations. But, all employers will want to make sure that they understand how and where services are being delivered.

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How are ADP Test Refunds Calculated?

When a plan elects to correct a failing ADP or ACP test via refunds, a two-step process sometimes called the “leveling method” is used. The method presented below describes the process for an ADP test failure, but a similar process works for ACP test failures as well. In the first step, the contributions of the … Read more

Do You Outsource Any of Your Work?

Some 401(k) TPAs outsource some of their work to independent contractors, to US based outsourcing firms, or international outsourcing firms.  There is nothing wrong with outsourcing, but plan sponsors and trustees have the right to know about such arrangements before retaining a third party administration firm.  In some cases, outsourcing is used to reduce cost or smooth out workflows.  In other cases, a small TPA firm may occasionally use an independent contractor to perform peer review to ensure the quality of their work product and that the TPA firm is keeping current with all laws and industry developments.  Or, a 401(k) TPA may engage an outside expert to assist on specialized engagements.

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Which is Cheaper?

While fees should never be the sole determinant of choosing any vendor or product, fees are always relevant. Sometimes it is hard to unravel 401(k) TPA pricing even when TPA firms fully disclose their pricing, and any indirect compensation that the TPA firm may receive.  Additionally, sometimes the employer has to consider which expenses the employer should bear and which expenses participants should bear.  It is easy to see this with a couple of examples.

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How is Revenue Sharing Handled?

Some record-keepers pay 401(k) TPAs revenue sharing to help TPAs keep plan document and administrative fees charged to mutual clients lower.  Each record-keeper’s program varies in which TPAs qualify and how the amount of revenue sharing is calculated.  Many TPAs have some clients where they receive revenue sharing and some where they do not.  There are several ways that TPAs handle revenue sharing amounts.

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