How to Automate 403(b) Administration

September 27, 2017 by Alex Goldberg

If your organization offers a non-profit retirement plan then your employees are equipped with a great way to save for retirement. But that can also mean some heavy duty administration for your organization.

For example, if you offer an ERISA plan you will need to file the information-heavy IRS Form 5500. And if there are more than 100 participants, the plan must provide audited financial statements. Even a non-ERISA plan needs a way to get employee contributions from payroll to the participant’s investment account. And while church plans may never be required to comply with ERISA rules, just a few oversights can mean private-sector plans must become ERISA compliant.

Items on the 403(b) admin’s to-do list

Sponsoring a 403(b) plan requires considerable oversight once the plan is up and running. For example, ERISA plans must comply with all communications requirements, including Department of Labor fee disclosures. A plan fiduciary is in charge of investment management, including the selection of investment options. If a plan provider is not serving as fiduciary in this regard, then you are the fiduciary.

In addition to investment providers, other vendors must be carefully selected and their fees evaluated. The Investment Policy Statement should be regularly reviewed and practices evaluated to determine if the statement is being followed. If loans are allowed, do they comply with stated policies? Are employees being alerted of the existence of the plan as required, and given the opportunity to change their deferrals?

One of the key responsibilities when offering a 403(b) plan is getting those defined contributions from payroll to participants’ investment accounts. This task is required to be done promptly. In addition, any employer contributions must be differentiated from employee contributions and records must be accurately maintained.

Automating the payroll to contribution process

Allowing your payroll system to communicate with your 403(b) recordkeeping system is a great way to save time and reduce headaches. And, as a bonus, this automated process can cut down on manual mistakes. (If this process is not yet automated, the person compiling the ever-expanding spreadsheet will thank you once it is!) While payroll automation is critical to drastically simplifying your 403(b)’s day-to-day administration, there are many reasons NOT to hire your payroll provider as your retirement plan recordkeeper — namely higher fees and lower quality of service. The good news it that there are now ways to have your two systems talk to each other without tying yourself to a single payroll company.

At ForUsAll, our payroll integration means that your payroll data is the final authority when it comes to tracking eligibility, making contributions and confirming deferral rates. We’ve built software that pulls data from most cloud-based payroll providers and automatically syncs it with your recordkeeper of choice, so you can maintain bargaining power on fees, service, and more.

When the payroll and 403(b) recordkeeping systems don’t talk to each other, someone has to act as the intermediary. In the worst case scenario, that person is you. Just consider what happens when an employee wants to increase their 403(b) deferral rate – that employee probably sends an email to the person in charge of such changes (once the employee finds out who that person is), and that person makes the appropriate change in the payroll system so that the payroll company can log the new deferral rate.

And without payroll integration, each time payroll is run, a bevy of checks must be done to see if the 403(b) plan is affected. For example:

  • Check for newly eligible employees.
  • Send notices to those employees.
  • Add new enrollees.
  • Run payroll.
  • Cut checks to employees.
  • Determine withholdings for employees.

But with true payroll integration, you just run payroll and those 403(b) duties are handled.

That’s the big picture, and it’s a pretty attractive one to someone with spreadsheet fatigue. But here’s a bit more detail on how these benefits can make a difference to your staff and your plan:

  1. Once employees are eligible, they’re in. ForUsAll has always been focused on making it simple for small to medium-sized employers to roll out a defined contribution plan at scale. As soon as an employee is hired, we go on the alert and implement a multi-touch communications campaign. That means employees know when they are eligible to participate in the plan.
  2. Integration bolsters your defense against compliance errors. Payroll integration is the foundation for many of the built-in compliance tests the ForUsAll system runs on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. The combination of automation over manual entry and regular compliance checks means:
    • Non-discrimination and quality checks are run all year long.
    • Employee requests are processed on a timely basis and within regulatory guidelines.
    • Errors are caught early which allows time to make corrections before it’s too late
  3. Updating payroll and your 403(b) platform just got easier. Payroll integration is a two-way street where payroll and the 403(b) platform talk to each other. That means when an employee changes the deferral we take care of everything so the employee’s check reflects the proper amount and the correct contribution hits the 403(b) balance. If you are in charge of payroll, you can now handle other tasks since many of your manual, tedious, and time-consuming tasks will be automated.
  4. Fire up automatic enrollment. Payroll integration allows you take advantage of automatic enrollment, a great way to boost employee participation. Plus, ForUsAll integration is compatible with the most popular cloud-based payroll providers. That means automatic enrollment and even savings escalation is a snap.

For more on automating your plan administration, chat with someone on the ForUsAll team. Or if you’re looking to select the right outsourced 403(b) administrator for plan, download the 403(b) provider comparison worksheet below!

 

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Alex Goldberg
Alex is a behavioral economics buff and a firm believer in the power of smart default settings. He envisions a future in which Americans don't have to be proactive about saving for a comfortable retirement. As an early member of ForUsAll’s marketing team, Alex leads demand generation efforts, building awareness and enticing plan sponsors with the promise of lower fees, less work, and reduced liability. After graduating from UC Berkeley with a degree in economics, Alex joined an early-stage start up and built their marketing engine from scratch, helping the company grow from twenty or so employees to over a hundred. In his free time, Alex loves to play soccer, listen to podcasts, watch documentaries, try new crockpot recipes, and sample Japanese whiskey. He has no plans of ever retiring, but looks forward to having more time to travel the world.
Alex Goldberg

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