SPARK Releases Final Best Practices for 403(b)s

The SPARK Institute released final versions of its "Best Practices for 403(b) Plans" and a sample Information Sharing Agreement (ISA).

SPARK general cousel Larry Goldbrum said that in order for these documents to achieve their intended purposes, they will have to be widely accepted and followed. The documents are available on The SPARK Institute’s Web site (

Best Practices for 403(b) Plans Information Sharing—Minimum and Comprehensive Data Elements summarizes what information will be shared among affected parties. (See SPARK Issues Proposed Best Practices for 403(b) Info Sharing.)

The sample ISA provides a set of sample contractual provisions with bracketed alternative or optional text and italicized user notes, and a list of the data elements and information that SPARK Institute members have collectively agreed upon as minimally necessary for issuers and vendors to exchange. (See SPARK Seeks Comment on 403(b) Information Sharing Agreement.)

According to Goldbrum, SPARK is developing additional best practices that will help vendors and 403(b) sponsors resolve how to share the necessary data.

In addition, the Institute said it is creating a sample Request for Proposal (RFP) specifically for 403(b) plans. “We have heard from our members that RFP volume is high and many 403(b) plan sponsors are using the SPARK RFP Guide which was developed for 401(k) plans,” said Goldbrum. “Since that document is not intended for use by non-ERISA plans, we are developing a new version designed specifically for the 403(b) market and expect to make it available to the public shortly.’