Small Business 401(k) Blog

The Frugal Fiduciary Small Business 401(k) Blog

Get the latest industry news, deadlines and tips you need to know to help tackle your fiduciary responsibility needs.

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Retirement Plan Types | Plan Design | Plan Setup

The Ultimate Guide to Safe Harbor 401(k) Plans

By: Eric Droblyen
March 30th, 2022

Safe harbor 401(k) plans are subject to employer contribution and participant disclosure requirements that don’t apply to traditional (non-safe harbor) 401(k) plans. In exchange, a safe harbor plan can automatically pass the ADP/ACP test and satisfy the minimum contribution requirement when the top heavy test fails. Because many small 401(k) plans (under 100 participants) have a hard time passing the ADP/ACP and top heavy tests, safe harbor plans are popular with small businesses.

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Provider Shopping | Plan Setup

Bundled or Unbundled 401(k) Provider – How to Choose

By: Eric Droblyen
November 10th, 2021

401(k) providers can deliver either "bundled" or "unbundled" plan administration services. A bundled (or “full-service”) provider delivers all three of the major plan administration services - asset custody, participant recordkeeping, and Third-Party Administration (TPA) - while an unbundled provider allies with at least one other company to deliver all three services. If you’re a business owner, understanding the differences between the two service models can help you choose the best 401(k) provider for you and your employees.

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401(k) Plan Design Checklist

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Subscribe to the The Frugal Financial Small Business 401(k) Blog and receive this free checklist for help in determing the best 401(k) plan design options and fit for your company.

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Plan Design | Controlled Groups | Plan Setup

Is Your Company Part of a Controlled Group?  You Need to Know or Risk 401(k) Plan Disqualification

By: Eric Droblyen
May 26th, 2021

When two or more companies with common ownership meet the IRS’ controlled group definition, they are considered a single employer for 401(k) plan purposes. 401(k) plans must often benefit the employees of all controlled group members to pass the IRC section 410(b) “coverage” test annually. Put differently - overlooking a member can often mean a failed coverage test. Steep IRS penalties - including plan disqualification - are possible when a failure goes uncorrected for years. A basic understanding of the controlled group rules can help employers avoid this trouble.

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Provider Shopping | Plan Design | Plan Setup

Starting a 401k? A Short Initial Plan Year is Probably a Bad Idea

By: Eric Droblyen
April 14th, 2021

401(k) plans must define a 12-month “plan year” for annual administration purposes. Most plans choose a calendar year for administrative ease. A new plan can specify a period that’s shorter than a full 12-months for its initial plan year by choosing a mid-year effective date. However, establishing a short plan year with a mid-year effective date is often a bad idea. Most plans are better off making their effective date retroactive to the first day of the normal plan year - January 1 in the case of a calendar-based plan – to establish a 12-month initial plan year.

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Investments | Plan Setup | Fiduciary Responsibility

401(k) Investments - Options for Selecting a “Prudent” Menu

By: Eric Droblyen
September 30th, 2020

Believe it or not, ERISA imposes few fiduciary responsibilities on business owners when selecting investments for their 401(k) plan. They boil down to picking – and maintaining - enough “prudent” investments to allow plan participants to diversify their account “so as to minimize the risk of large losses.” Prudent 401(k) investments are simply funds that meet their investment objective for reasonable fees.

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401(k) Fees | Provider Shopping | Plan Setup

Small Business 401(k) Tax Credits – Including SECURE Act Enhancements

By: Eric Droblyen
September 16th, 2020

On December 20, 2019, the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act was signed into law. The legislation made many significant retirement plan changes, including enhanced tax credits for small businesses that start a new 401(k) plan and/or add an automatic enrollment feature to any 401(k) plan. For most small businesses, these changes took effect January 1, 2020. 

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