Who can be a 401(k) 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 401(k) plan sponsor responsible for handling?

The 401(k) 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 401(k) 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 401(k) plan administrator do?

A designated 401(k) plan administrator:

  • Discusses 401(k) 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 401(k) plan records, enforces plan documents, and secures a fidelity bond for protection.

Transparent, responsible small business 401(k) administration

At Ubiquity, we specialize in creating small business 401(k)s 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 401(k) 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.