Employee Benefit Plans

The strength of your company’s employee benefit plans can make a big difference when you are trying to recruit the best and brightest employees. And your employee benefit plan audit should yield information that helps you improve the plan and aid recruiting and retention of good workers. Working with an advisory firm that has extensive experience with employee benefit plan audits is particularly important today as the federal government is increasingly imposing sanctions on plan sponsors whose plans do not meet compliance requirements.

How We Do It

The ARB team will manage your employee benefit plan audit in an efficient, cost-effective way, with services that are customized to your specific needs. For organizations that are below the audit threshold, we can provide consulting services. We’re noticing a rise in ESOP-owned companies as a succession planning tool for retiring owners. ARB’s team is well versed in this area and can provide support for their creation, maintenance and annual compliance.

Plan financial statement audits that meet regulatory compliance as well as your Plan’s other reporting needs.
ESOP creation is becoming a more frequently used strategy for succession planning, but it requires annual compliance.
Proactively identify and fix any issues before regulators get involved and impose penalties on fiduciaries.
Discover if your plan is in compliance and find out what steps to take to improve your plan’s governance.
Compliance to submit the 5500 filing each year.

Strategies to stay below the audit threshold and advice for plans that are being audited to increase participation so owners can contribute more.

TPAs play an important role and hold vital information and answers to questions, so we work directly with them during our audit and consulting processes.

Help navigating and properly complying with the audit process from federal regulators.

DOL Audit of Auditors

The Department of Labor has put significant attention on employee benefit plan auditors to ensure the quality of their work with the aim of protecting plan participants. Our most recent DOL audit was in 2019. We received a strong positive assessment of our work with no exceptions noted. The DOL recommends that plans be audited by firms with a significant ongoing employee benefit plan client base as their statistics show that audit quality is strongly correlated with the number of plans audited.

“CPA firms that were members of the AICPA Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center tended to produce audits that have fewer audit deficiencies.”

– Department of Labor’s “Assessing the Quality of the Employee Benefit Plan Audits” report, May 28, 2015.

ARB is a member of the AICPA Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center

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How We’re Helping our Employee Benefit Plan Audit Clients

Increasing Plan Participation: Increasing plan participation is good for both employees and employers. We advise clients on how to increase plan participation through automatic enrollment, matching contributions, withdrawal opportunities, eligibility requirements, and more.

Plans with 100-ish Participants: Staying below the Plan Audit threshold can help save companies money, so we help business owners review their plan’s participant lists for former employees or other people who are inactive in the account to try to reduce the participant count and stave off the need for an audit.

Helping Plan Sponsors Stay Safe: The criteria for being a plan sponsor are broad, so determining whether or not you qualify isn’t always straightforward. In addition, fiduciary obligations are sweeping, and the DOL penalties are expensive, potentially at both the company and personal level. We provide quality advice to help clients avoid costly missteps.

Employee Benefit Plan Services Team Leaders

Cheri L. Walker, CPA | Managing Principal

Employee Benefit Plan Services Practice Leader

Cheri focuses on providing companies with financial accounting, tax planning, and employee benefit plan audit services. She has participated in hundreds of employee benefit plan audits over her 30+ years of supporting clients’ plans. She serves as Managing Principal of ARB and has served ESOPs since the 1990s.