Ubiquity

What Is the Difference Between a 401k Plan Sponsor and a Plan Administrator?

Typically, the employer is considered the 401k “plan sponsor,” whereas the day-to-day running of the plan may be handled by a third-party “plan administrator.” Understanding the different responsibilities between the plan sponsor and plan administrator is essential to maintain compliance with all IRS and DOL regulations.

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Who can be a 401k plan sponsor?

In addition to the owner of the company, the plan sponsor can also be a union, a group of representatives, or a key executive. Often, a plan sponsor is also referred to as a “fiduciary” – a person who takes legal responsibility for making decisions on behalf of plan participants. Fiduciaries agree to avoid conflicts of interest and work to keep fees reasonable. The fiduciary can also be held personally liable for plan losses caused by mismanagement.

What is a 401k plan sponsor responsible for handling?

The 401k employer handles the following tasks as the plan sponsor:

  • Selects and monitors service providers diligently.
  • Makes timely contributions to keep benefits well-funded.
  • Avoids making prohibited transactions under IRS law.
  • Understands what the plan does or does not cover.
  • Assigns individuals to take care of tasks not included in the administrator’s service agreement.
  • Determines what classification of employees can participate in the plan.
  • Decides upon the types and amounts of allowable plan contributions, including the employer match.
  • Sets a vesting period for receiving full benefits.
  • Makes the call on when and how benefits will be paid, and whether or not loans will be available.
  • Communicates new hires, terminations, and payroll changes with the administrative team.
  • Sends timely disclosures to workers and beneficiaries, as well as the government.

Who can be a 401k plan administrator?

An administrator must be selected under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). The admin can be the employer itself, a committee of employees, a company executive, or a third-party. Some aspects, such as giving out financial advice, can be outsourced to an investment broker, financial planner, or auditor.

What does a 401k plan administrator do?

A designated plan administrator:

  • Discusses 401k options and customizes setup for the plan sponsor.
  • Oversees plan operation, including employee enrollment, employer matching, loans, and distributions.
  • Ensures regulatory compliance, reviewing law changes and making plan amendments as necessary.
  • Sends out 1099-R and 5500 forms required by the Department of Labor and Internal Revenue Service.
  • Performs IRS-required ADP, ACP, and top-heavy compliance tests for nondiscrimination each year.
  • Brings plans into compliance by refunding top-earning employees or upping employer contributions.
  • Keeps employees informed on how to participate, use benefits, and maximize savings.
  • Maintains 401k plan records, enforces plan documents, and secures a fidelity bond for protection.

Transparent, responsible small business 401k administration

At Ubiquity, we specialize in creating small business 401ks and assisting plan sponsors in the day-to-day administration. We are committed to creating and maintaining a plan that’s personalized for each organization and its employees. Even if a company already has a plan, it’s a good idea to review the relationship with the administrator to be sure the deal is fair and the service provided is up to par. Check out our 401k resources to help you determine if your current plan is maximizing your retirement savings.

Compared to the competition, Ubiquity charges no AUM or per-participant fees, instead relying on a flat, low, monthly rate that has worked for us since 1999. Contact our team for details.

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If you are a small business owner and need a retirement plan for yourself and your company, only Ubiquity offers flat-fee plans, plus expert guidance along the way.

We will fully customize your plan to meet the specific needs of your small business.

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Setting up a 401k can be complicated. Only Ubiquity gives small business owners access to retirement experts in addition to industry-leading low flat-fees. Each sales expert has over a decade of experience assisting business owners in 401k plan design. Take advantage of this free benefit.

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44 Montgomery Street, Suite 3060
San Francisco, CA 94104
Support: 855.401.4357

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© 2020 Ubiquity Retirement + Savings
Privacy Policy
44 Montgomery Street, Suite 3060
San Francisco, CA 94104
Support: 855.401.4357

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