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The Evolving Landscape of ERISA Audits: What You Need to Know about Upcoming Changes and the Impact on Your Organization

The Evolving Landscape of ERISA Audits: What You Need to Know about Upcoming Changes and the Impact on Your Organization

Insights by Ethan Smith, CPA, MBA, Manager and ERISA Practice Leader at Craig, Fitzsimmons & Meyer, LLP

As an accounting Manager specializing in ERISA audits at a leading CPA firm, I have firsthand experience with the significant impact of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) on the management of employee benefit plans. The recent changes to Form 5500 and Form 5500-SF, effective for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2023, underscore the evolving nature of ERISA compliance and the heightened importance of thorough and knowledgeable auditing.

ERISA sets stringent standards for retirement and health plans in private industry to protect individuals in these plans. Auditors play a crucial role in ensuring these plans comply with ERISA’s complex regulations. The recent updates, which include consolidated reporting for specific defined contribution retirement plans and improved reporting by multiple-employer plans, reflect the ongoing efforts to enhance transparency and accountability in plan management.

I provide ERISA audit services to a diverse range of clients, including local governments, religious organizations, educational institutions, social service and welfare organizations, and small businesses in various industries such as construction. In my experience, I’ve seen how ERISA audits can vary greatly depending on the organization’s size and the type of plans offered. These audits are not just about compliance; they provide crucial insights into the plan’s operations and financial health. They guide employers in making informed decisions that affect hundreds or thousands of employees.

Given the Department of Labor’s increased focus on ERISA compliance, the role of an experienced auditor has never been more critical. A comprehensive understanding of the recent changes, such as the new participant-counting methodology and the addition of specific compliance questions, is essential in navigating these audits. Our goal is to provide much more than an audit report; we provide a roadmap for ongoing compliance and optimization of benefit plans.

As the landscape of employee benefits continues to evolve, the need for specialized knowledge and experience in ERISA audits becomes increasingly apparent. As auditors, we are responsible for staying abreast of these changes and ensuring that the employee benefit plans we audit meet the highest standards of compliance and integrity.

Take the first step toward a more secure and compliant future for your organization’s benefit plans. To ensure the compliance and integrity of your employee benefit plans, reach out to learn more about Craig, Fitzsimmons & Meyer’s ERISA Audit Services. Contact Ethan Smith, CPA, MBA, Manager and CFM’s ERISA Practice Leader at esmith@cfmllp.com or 631-360-1400 x307 to discuss your specific needs.