Fiduciary and Audit Requirements Still Hazy for 403(b) Sponsors

Although the new regulations governing 403(b) plans are already in effect, many plan sponsors admit to not fully understanding certain compliance requirements.
The TIAA-CREF Institute said its survey found nearly three-quarters (74%) of respondents believe they are fully compliant with the new regulations. However, nearly half (45%) said they have difficulty understanding the regulations.

According to a press release, the lack of confidence in understanding the new regulations is most pronounced regarding the new standards of compliance and evolving fiduciary responsibilities, and readiness for annual plan audits, as part of the expanded Form 5500 annual reporting requirement. Only about half (54%) indicated they were familiar with the plan audit requirement.

The survey found 403(b) sponsors are also having an issue with coordinating plan loans and hardships from multiple plan vendors. Only 15% indicated they could monitor such activity through a consolidated report.

TIAA-CREF noted that penalties for plans not in compliance range from fines to full plan disqualification—which could make all plan assets subject to taxation.

“Those who are confused shouldn’t delay in getting the help they need,” said Paul J. Gallagher, managing director, Product Development and Management for TIAA-CREF and co-author of the survey report, in the press release.

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