As an ERISA attorney, 3(16) plan administrator, and sponsor of several 401(k) plans that needed an audit completed by October 15th to file the Form 5500 on-time, I will have to say I’ve noticed a discrepancy among audit firms.
The discrepancy I see revolves around how technology has changed 401(k) plan and how auditors deal with the technological change. Most audit forms can deal with the fact that almost all records are now online including the mechanism to approve loans and distributions, some do not. Those audit firms that can’t understand the changing times run around like a chicken without a head, spending too much time in complaining to the plan sponsors, the third party administrator, and every other plan providers that they don’t have the requisite records for testing and review when everything is easily downloadable from the plan provider website.
October 15th is a very stressful time for everyone in the retirement plan space, auditors that don’t understand the changing 401(k) plan technological environment add more stress to a situation that doesn’t need it and the audit firms that do understand the change, are a credit to the plan provider community.