How to Make Your Life as a Plan Sponsor Easier

Having your benefit plan audited is not a fun experience. While auditors are on-site, you’re being pulled in so many different directions, even more than in your typical day. To some, this is actually an inconvenience. While you can’t eliminate the need for the audit, you can prepare for it. The following are three ways you can prepare for the audit to make your life a bit easier along the way.

Request a Planning Meeting

If your auditor has not recommended a planning meeting, ask for one. This should take place prior to the start of audit work. You will want to make sure the agenda includes:

-Establishing deadlines
-Setting the timing of audit testing
-Sharing communication preferences

You also want to use this time to talk with your auditor about any changes in the plan or changes in service providers. This is important since some changes impact the required audit procedures. Making sure the auditors are aware of changes before the start of the audit will help them plan accordingly and ensure a smoother process.

Ask Why

Throughout the course of your audit, you will receive requests from your auditors for certain documents, and they will probably have a number of questions for you, too. If any of these requests leave you perplexed, be sure to ask why they are asking.

It is important for all plan sponsors to understand the procedures and testing that are being performed during the audit. This ensures everyone is on the same page. You will find that an explanation from the auditor describing the testing and why it’s being performed provides you with a greater understanding of the plan itself and what is being audited.

Ensure 2-Way Communication

You want to make sure you know what’s going on with the overall status of your audit throughout the process. This means you need your auditors to communicate with you, and you must share your desires with them. It’s these open lines of communication, as well as what type of communication you prefer, that are key.

Do you prefer a phone call? Or would you rather have an email? And how often do you want updates from the auditor? Make sure to have this discussion with the auditors and come to an agreement that will keep you informed, but not bombarded with messages. Uphold your end of the agreement and expect them to do the same.

Ease Your Audit Process

Your audit doesn’t have to be a painful and long process. If you work together with your auditors and understand everyone’s roles, you can build a strong, long-lasting relationship with your audit firm — one that will make life easier for you during the audit process for years to come.

About Windham Brannon

A leading audit, tax, and advisory firm, Windham Brannon has been guiding clients through varying financial markets since 1957. Windham Brannon audits more than 100 Employee Benefit Plans and has been a member of the AICPA’s Employee Benefit Plans Audit Quality Center (EBPAQC) since its inception.  The firm has a dedicated team of professionals that specialize in Employee Benefit Plan Audits and speak on various industry topics to groups at the local and national level.  Windham Brannon is committed to building relationships to help our clients succeed.

About the Author

Anne Morris, CPA is Windham Brannon’s Employee Benefit Plan Practice Leader. She has over 16 years of experience in public accounting and is committed to helping clients ensure they are in compliance with reporting requirements and advising clients on plan operations, as well as providing recommendations on process and administrative improvements. Please contact Anne Morris at 678-510-2723 or amorris@windhambrannon.com if you have any questions about your EBP audit.

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