How to Discern a Reputable 401(k) Plan Auditor
There are many 401(k) auditors in the marketplace, but be sure you choose one that understands the unique needs of a 401(k) audit. Why is it so important to find a reputable auditor? If you choose an auditor that has little experience with 401(k) audits and performs a deficient audit (basically meaning they did not audit the Plan correctly or may not have done enough), the company (yes, that’s you) can be fined up to $1,100 a day until the Plan comes into compliance (meaning another audit is performed on the Plan and submitted with the 5500, AGAIN).
So, what makes up a reputable auditor:
Performs a reasonable amount of 401(k) audits per year, usually around 25 or more, but less may be sufficient based on the rest of the criteria below (see last paragraph for more info provided by the Department of Labor (DOL))
Is a member of the Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center (EBPAQC) through the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). The EBPAQC is a great source to keep auditors up to date on accounting changes or regulatory changes in the 401(k) arena, plus it shows they are serious about their audit quality
Makes it a priority to have Continuing Professional Education (CPE) hours tailored toward employee benefit plan audits
The most recent study performed by the DOL, basically the governing strong arm of 401(k) plans, was performed in 2015. While the study is long (193 pages exact), it has quite a bit of useful information in assisting companies determine, as well as really strike home the importance, of finding a quality 401(k) auditor. If you are in the market for a 401(k) auditor or are thinking of switching firms, please be sure to think of the quality of work that can be performed by the prospective firm.