Are You Ready? Preparing for This Year's Employee Benefit Plan Audit.

This year has brought with it some challenges, but not without opportunity. When it comes to preparing for this year’s employee benefit plan audit, we have provided some pointers you should consider to ensure your audit goes as smoothly as ever.

Virtual Audits in Full Swing

Before the coronavirus pandemic and the shift to virtual work, many employee benefit plans audits were already being done remotely. Windham Brannon has successfully offered a virtual audit for several years. We have found the following to be necessary while doing remote audits:

  • Investing in the latest technology to meet our clients anywhere, anytime. This has never been more relevant than during a pandemic.
  • Communication is key. Clients can expect the same level of service and value that we provide during an onsite/in-office audit.  Virtual audits, ideal during a pandemic, are most successful when both a client and the audit team collaborate and communicate. In order for the audit to move forward efficiently and quickly as possible, it’s important that there is no breakdown in communication.

Pre-Audit Checklist: Ensuring a Smooth Virtual Audit

Collaborating virtually 100% can be a new experience, particularly if you are used to receiving an audit in- person.  The virtual audit has its advantages and can still make for good working relationships with your auditors. While technology capabilities are important to be able to logistically pull off the audit, it is equally important to ensure the human element is not lost in the midst of sending files back and forth and working together to understand the nuances of your employee benefit plan Audit.

  •  Identify the preferred method for virtual meetings. Whether it is videoconferencing, phone calls or chat rooms – or a combination of these – set a game plan that works for everyone. Your Windham Brannon team can help work with you ahead of the audit to discuss communication expectations from both sides and what will work best for your business. Our shared goal of completing a timely audit will help move the conversation forward.
  • Gather the information needed by your auditors To get a head start on the process.
  • Confirm access to the portal website and log in. Testing the technology used to collaborate with your audit team will ensure a smooth start to the audit process.

As Plan Sponsors move forward with their yearly employee benefit plan audit, they’ll want to assess the auditors based on expertise. Notice what types of training they’ve received on updates and changes to EBPs. Qualified firms are staying up to date and training their staff in these areas. Firms that audit more than 100 employee benefit plans will yield higher quality audits than firms that perform less than 100 audits per year.

Looking toward 2021’s Audit

Next year in 2021, you can expect some changes to employee benefit plans, as amended with the passage of the SECURE Act and the CARES Act, in December 2019 and March 2020, respectively.

Three major changes occurred for EBPs, as passed in the CARES Act on March 27, 2020:

  • No early withdrawal penalty
  • Larger loans available
  • Required minimum distributions

Learn more about these changes in law here.

For more information about how Windham Brannon’s Employee Benefit Plan Practice, email Anne Morris, amorris@windhambrannon.com.

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