DWC stays on top of what's trending, and our self-proclaimed pension geeks often offer their insights in industry publications. As we transition into the fourth quarter the theme has been, "What Plan Sponsors Need to Know." Get caught up with this month's round up:
The Importance of Addressing Participant Complaints | PLANADVISER
From time to time participants will lodge complaints against their retirement plan, and if a plan sponsor ignores it that participant is liable to turn to the Department of Labor (DOL).
DWC Managing Partner Keith Clark lauded the effectiveness of responding to plan questions in person: "If the complaints are about fees or investment options, the appropriate contact at the the plan sponsor should take the time with the participant, in person, to releave the due diligence reports from the selection process and the ongoing monitoring reports."
Clark explained that full disclosure is always the best approach, so much so that some sponsors include participants on a plan advisory committee.
It is also important to document all participant communication and to follow up until the complain is closed, and not just for the plan sponsor but for all service providers involved.
What Every Company 401(k) Plan Fiduciary Needs to Know about MEPs | Fiduciary News
In other news, as the industry creeps closer to a universal 401(k) MEP, more companies are trying to learn more about them.
DWC's Joni Jennings provided insights into what a MEP is and what key factors go into determining its legal standing: "A Multiple Employer Plan (MEP) is a single qualified plan that covers two or more unrelated companies," she explains. "Although unrelated generally means there is not enough common ownership for the companies to be considered legally related, they must still have some commonality of business purpose in order to be a part of the same retirement plan."
That commonality is the key factor is determining the legal standing of a MEP. Without enough commonality the plan type changes to an Open MEP, which does offer the same advantages. "Open MEPs are really just collections of separate stand-alone plans that share some resources," Jennings noted.
Aside from legal standing there are a number of other important questions and considerations the plan fiduciary must address when determining if a MEP is a more appropriate alternative to maintaining a stand-alone 401(k) plan, not the least of which is the degree to which they reduce fiduciary responsibility.
For more information on plan sponsor requirements, duties deadlines, visit our Knowledge Center here.