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.
401(k) plans are popular today because they offer generous tax benefits to employers and employees. However, to qualify for these benefits, 401(k) plans must complete a myriad of plan administration tasks each year. It’s ultimately up to employers to ensure each task is completed timely. Meeting this important fiduciary responsibility can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be. The key is hiring a 401(k) provider that’s willing and able to do three things - 1) summarize all required tasks, 2) complete the more difficult and time-consuming ones, and 3) provide straightforward direction for completing the rest.
Providers of Multiple-Employer 401(k) Plans (MEPs) – a form of 401(k) plan co-sponsored by two or more unrelated employers - have had a rough time in the courts in recent months. Three providers - ADP, Pentegra, and TriNet - have been accused of charging excessive 401(k) fees, while two others – Insperity and National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) - have paid out tens of millions of dollars in restitution. Because providers usually market MEPs as a lower-cost alternative to single-employer 401(k) plans, these lawsuits can seem surprising. I’m not surprised one bit.
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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.
When a 401(k) provider’s administration fees are paid from plan assets, they're typically allocated among plan participants pro rata based on account balance. That means the plan participants with largest account balances pay the highest fees. In most small business 401(k) plans, that group usually includes the business owner.
Tens of thousands of dollars are on the line. This might sound a bit sensational, but when it comes to choosing the right type of 401(k) plan, this is true a lot more often than many small business owners realize.
According to AARP, Americans are 15 times more likely to save for retirement when they can do so by payroll deduction through a workplace retirement plan. However, while most large businesses – companies with more than 100 employees – sponsor a retirement plan, 51 to 71 percent of small businesses don’t. In a Pew Charitable Trusts survey, small business owners cited “resources required to start and maintain a plan” as one of the top reasons they don’t sponsor a 401(k) plan. To help more Americans save for retirement, overcoming this concern is essential.