The Importance of Hiring a Quality Employee Benefit Plan Auditor

The Importance of Hiring a Quality Employee Benefit Plan Auditor

by Sophia Bennett Sophia is a freelance business writer based in Eugene, Oregon. Her work has appeared in Oregon Business, 1859 Oregon’s Magazine and many other publications. When an organization moves from having a small retirement plan to a large one – the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) generally requires a retirement plan with 100 or more participants to have an audit of their plan performed by an external auditor. The purpose of the process is to make sure the retirement plan is operating according to plan guidelines and rules, complying with state and federal laws, and actually depositing the correct amount in each employee’s retirement account. It’s wise to not wait until the company hits the 100 employee mark to start planning for the audit. Evan Dickens, a partner with Jones & Roth CPAs and Business Advisors, recommends that businesses start exploring the requirements when they reach around 80 staff members. That gives them time to determine when they will need the first audit, find a qualified CPA firm, and start pulling together all the necessary paperwork. Evan Dickens, a partner with Jones & Roth CPAs and Business Advisors, recommends that businesses start exploring the requirements when they reach around 80 staff members. Jones & Roth partner Jon Newport, CPA acknowledges that an audit can sound like a burden. However, he encourages companies to think of it as an opportunity. It gives them a chance to double-check that everyone really is receiving the money owed to them. “We’re doing it for the benefit of the participants,” he says. “They’re the stakeholders we’re most concerned with.” Picking the right audit...
ERISA Covered Employee Benefit Plans Audit Quality

ERISA Covered Employee Benefit Plans Audit Quality

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) has completed an assessment of the quality of audit work performed by CPAs with respect to financial statement audits of employee benefit plans covered under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). The results of their study were alarming. Nearly 40% of plan audits failed to comply with generally accepted auditing standards (GAAS), putting $653 billion dollars and 22.5 million plan participants and beneficiaries at an elevated risk of loss. In addition, the AICPA has determined that 21 % of practitioners in our study were not in compliance with required peer review requirements. One notable finding was that firms that performed the fewest benefit plan audits had a 76% deficiency rate in complying with GAAS. This report confirms what our Employee Benefit Plan Audit team believes to be true – a quality auditor is one who has extensive and specialized experience in the unique and highly technical aspects of Employee Benefit Plan audits. Read more about the importance of hiring a quality auditor. The Jones & Roth Employee Benefit Plan Audit team performs more benefit plan audits than any other firm headquartered in the state of Oregon. Therefore, we hold a vigorous commitment to excellence, and our expertise covers common 401(k) plans, as well as unusual, highly technical plans such as defined benefit, 403(b), employee stock ownership (ESOP), profit-sharing, self-directed, health and welfare, and alternative investments.   Evan Dickens, CPA is a partner in the Bend office of Jones & Roth and the partner in charge of the firm’s retirement plan audit practice. Audits of employee benefit plans...
Retirement Plan Audit Alert from U.S. Department of Labor with Jones & Roth Guidance

Retirement Plan Audit Alert from U.S. Department of Labor with Jones & Roth Guidance

By Evan Dickens, CPA The U.S. Department of Labor is getting serious about the quality of retirement plan audits—and they’re reaching out directly to plan sponsors. Last month, an email with the subject “The Importance of a Quality Benefit Plan Audit” was sent to all individuals who are registered as plan administrator of a retirement plan that is required to have an annual financial statement audit. That email, from “PlanForAuditQuality – EBSA” is a legitimate email from the Employee Benefits Security Administration to plan administrators reminding them of their responsibility in selecting a high-quality auditor for their retirement plan. This effort is a result of a recent DOL study that concluded that almost 40% of retirement plan audits performed are deficient, and further a plan audit is more likely to be deficient if performed by a firm that has only limited experience and/or performs a low number of retirement plan audits. Deficient audits are not just a problem for the auditor, because they can cause the DOL to refuse the filing of the Form Series 5500, which can lead to very substantial financial penalties for the retirement plan sponsor. If you received this email from the DOL, don’t worry, you haven’t been specifically targeted. However, this letter is a great reminder that the Department of Labor continues to increase its oversight of the retirement plan audit process, and a good opportunity to consider the expertise and experience of your plan’s audit firm. The DOL has also published a pamphlet with some great ideas and tips for selecting a high-quality auditor: Selecting an Auditor for Your Employee Benefit Plan The retirement...
J&R Retirement Plan Audit Team to NHRMA 2015

J&R Retirement Plan Audit Team to NHRMA 2015

The Retirement Plan Audit Team at Jones & Roth were recent attendees and event sponsors at the Northwest Human Resource Management Association 2015 Conference this week. Evan Dickens, CPA communicated “it was a terrific event, we really enjoyed connecting with HR and Benefit Managers to discuss their retirement plan audit needs and challenges.” Evan was joined at the Jones & Roth booth by his colleague retirement plan auditor Jon Newport, CPA who added “it was great meeting new HR Managers and connecting with our retirement plan audit clients as well.” The NHRMA conference attracted Human Resource professionals from across the Pacific Northwest who attended a wide variety of professional development and educational sessions regarding HR topics and industry trends. Northwest Human Resource Management Association (NHNorthwest Human Resource Management Association (NHRMA) has a proud tradition and history of service to the human resource professionals in the Northwestern United States and British Columbia dating from its formation in October 1939. The organization provides services to HR professionals and students in the states of Alaska, Oregon, and...