United States

Self-audits help ensure your employee retirement plan is compliant


The decisions and responsibilities of administrating your company’s employee retirement plan are significant. Plan sponsors are required to follow a fiduciary process as outlined by the Department of Labor (DOL). That means the DOL or Internal Revenue Service (IRS) could choose to audit your retirement plan at any time. To help ensure you are prepared should you receive an audit notice, it’s a good idea to conduct a periodic self-audit.

Below are common areas to focus on:

Plan documents

Make sure your files are organized and contain copies of all your important retirement plan documents, signed where appropriate.

  • Original plan document and each adoption agreement
  • All plan amendments, whether required or optional
  • Summary plan description and amendments to it
  • IRS approval letter for your plan
  • Minutes from meetings and board resolutions
Plan administration
  • Evidence of employer contributions (five years)
  • Matching contributions are made appropriately
  • Distribution documents
  • Default safe harbor, automatic enrollment notices
  • Audit results (IRS, DOL)
  • Annual plan review executive summary
  • Participant complaints
  • Significant business events (sale, purchase, etc.)
  • Fiduciary liability insurance contract
  • Correspondence (DOL, IRS, etc.)
Participant communication section
  • Enrollment material
  • Documentation of all communication events (meetings, emails, posting, etc.)
  • Material to be provided automatically
  • Material to be provided upon request
Service providers

Check to be sure that you’re prudently selecting and monitoring your plan’s service providers:

  • Criteria used for selecting providers are documented (e.g., requests for proposal, consultant reports)
  • Services provided are important and necessary for establishing or operating the plan
  • Fees charged are reasonable for the services provided
  • Agreements with all service providers are on file
  • Proof of insurance and fidelity bonds are on file (confirming adequate coverage for the employer is also very important)
  • Any required licenses are current