BENEFITS CONSULTING & ACTUARIAL SERVICES

Benefits Consulting and Plan Design

We partner with clients to solve specific issues ranging from special-project support to complete plan design. We are experts in all types of employee benefits plans, including defined benefit retirement plans, defined contribution retirement plans, health & welfare plans, non-qualified plans, and many others.  Representative projects include strategic plan design, retirement adequacy studies, historical data cleanup, regulatory updates and audits, one-time benefit calculations, due diligence and oversight of acquisitions. We evaluate benefit provisions and costs against your business objectives and provide options and recommendations as appropriate; we also address complex plan issues with practical solutions. We have extensive experience in the administration of benefit plans and ensure plans are crafted to maximize administrative quality while minimizing costs.

Plan Compliance and Operational Review

We perform full-scale or limited-scope reviews of administrative, operational and regulatory plan procedures and requirements and provide thorough assessments with practical recommendations.

Historic Benefits Data Cleanup and Data Analysis

SBA's data analysis strategies, combined with our deep understanding of employee benefits, uniquely qualify SBA to organize, analyze, research and resolve data issues. If you are undertaking a new system implementation or conversion from an old system, data issues can derail even the best-executed implementation. If your defined benefit data is producing questionable results, let us put our expertise to work for you. If your data is not centralized, if some is on paper and some is in a database (or multiple databases), we can develop a data consolidation plan, execute that plan and analyze the results. Data analysis and cleanup projects are well-thought out and executed against a detailed test plan.

Actuarial Services

We provide the full array of actuarial valuation services for pension plans, including analysis and preparation of data, funding requirements, financial accounting standards expense and disclosure, multi-year projections and government reporting. We can support other strategic client projects, including early retirement windows, layoffs, acquisitions, divestitures, union negotiations, plan design changes, surplus asset management and more. We provide benefit calculations for entire populations or for individuals and calculation of benefit splits when both qualified and non-qualified plans exist.

403(b) Plan Consulting

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued new regulations mandating changes to the oversight and administration of 403(b) plans. These 403(b) regulations were the first issued in more than 40 years. SBA’s experts are prepared to help clients define your plan model, create a plan document, analyze potential vendors, consolidate existing vendors, create Information Sharing Agreements (ISA’s), develop employee communications, and manage your plan.

 

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BENEFITS CONSULTING & ACTUARIAL SERVICES

Benefits Consulting and Plan Design

Pension Plan Calculations Client Industry:  Energy Services Company Project: Defined Benefit Plan Calculation Quality Assurance SituationA Fortune 500 client had a large number of terminated vested and retiree participants whose pension documentation was located in hardcopy files.  The files were supposed to contain details of the final pension calculation along with the required supporting documentation.  Analysis of a sample of the files revealed incomplete calculation details, multiple calculations in many of the files, and files with documents not related to the pension benefits. The client’s goal for this project was to verify each pension calculation and ensure that the documentation in each file was complete. How SBA HelpedSBA resources performed the following tasks:• Cataloged each of the files by plan, whether a retiree or terminated vested participant, and completeness of the file• Developed a strategy for dealing with incomplete files, including how missing and questionable data would be handled• Categorized the files to ensure that once a file was marked correct and complete, work would not be duplicated• Validated the benefit calculation for all applicable files• Created benefit calculations for terminated vested files as needed• Checked that the termination date, benefit commencement date, date of birth and date of employment matched the data on file• Recalculated optional forms of benefits to ensure that early retirement factors and optional form factors were applied to the accrued benefit to determine the benefit commencement amount• Verified that each file contained detailed documentation of all benefit rate increases over the retiree’s payment period• Confirmed that all required documentation, such as spousal consent forms, were present and complete• Assured that any documentation in the files related to calculation correction or error resolution were preserved in the files ResultsThe client was able to scan all benefit calculations and send the hardcopy files to archive.  With the calculation details verified and available electronically, the task of keeping track of the physical files and ensuring the integrity of those files was eliminated.  Future rework to verify calculation details was minimized.
Non-Qualified Plan Error Resolution Client Industry:  Telecommunications Manufacturing Firm Project: Deferred Compensation Plan Error Correction SituationA Fortune 500 client discovered that the match contribution of their deferred compensation plan was calculated incorrectly over an extended period of time.  This error affected company executives as well as highly compensated employees and created taxation issues for each affected individual. How SBA HelpedSBA performed the following processes in support of this project:• Created a data request for the deferred compensation administrator• Gathered plan documents and developed a detailed calculation summary• Consolidated historical and current participant data• Analyzed the data, identified all affected employees, and the timeframe of the error• Created a detailed worksheet showing the correct calculation for each affected employee• Directed the administrator on required corrections• Provided a call center to answer affected employees’ questions and walk them through the worksheet• Created participant communications materials• Provided data to the client’s payroll department to assist with W-2 tax corrections ResultsEmployees affected by this error were understandably upset with having to deal with multi-year issues with their W-2 earnings.  The client tells us that having an independent, facts-based approach to the problem helped build confidence that the error was dealt with and would not recur.  The client’s resources were able to focus on their day-to-day responsibilities and leave the difficult discussions to our professional, highly experienced analysts.
Retirement Plan Analysis and Design Client Industry:  Fortune 500 Telecommunications Service Provider Project: Strategic Retirement Plan Redesign SituationA client was interested in evaluating their current 401(k) plan design.  They wanted to evaluate such factors as:• What were participant perceptions of the plan?• How did the plan compare to the client’s peer companies?• Did the plan assist participants preparing for retirement?• Did the plan serve the needs of different employee groups (e.g., new hires, mid-career hires, etc.)?• Is there a better way to spend the match dollars being contributed to the plan? How SBA HelpedTo accomplish the goals of the project, SBA created a plan that addressed each of the key areas of interest:• Assessment of Current State - SBA extracted participant-level data from our client’s record keeper and added additional identifiers from payroll.  We then created a cross section of data based on available plan statistics, such as account balances and deferral percentages, along with location, division, and employee type information.• Assessment of Employee Perceptions - SBA developed a script and conducted individual one-on-one, focused phone interviews with selected employees.  The objective of the interviews was to pose questions in order to reach definitive conclusions regarding the value employees place on different aspects of the plans and of alternative plan features.  The results were consolidated in an electronic format that could be queried in different ways and included in the analysis.• Analysis of Peer Group - SBA performed a focused benchmarking effort against our client’s named peer group.  This analysis assessed plan features that prospective employees might find particularly appealing.• Development of Alternative Plan Designs - SBA developed alternative plan design recommendations.  Each alternative design was modeled at a detailed level taking into account such factors as plan cost, participant group “winners” and “losers”, and considerations for implementing a new plan design. ResultsWith data from the various phases of this project, we formulated a cost neutral plan design change that appealed to a broader population.  Additionally, the changes created a favorable environment for attracting and retaining talent in a very competitive industry.
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We partner with clients to solve specific issues ranging from special-project support to complete plan design. We are experts in all types of employee benefits plans, including defined benefit retirement plans, defined contribution retirement plans, health & welfare plans, non-qualified plans, and many others.  Representative projects include strategic plan design, retirement adequacy studies, historical data cleanup, regulatory updates and audits, one-time benefit calculations, due diligence and oversight of acquisitions. We evaluate benefit provisions and costs against your business objectives and provide options and recommendations as appropriate; we also address complex plan issues with practical solutions. We have extensive experience in the administration of benefit plans and ensure plans are crafted to maximize administrative quality while minimizing costs.

Plan Compliance and Operational Reviews

401(k) Transactional Audit Client Industry: Home Improvement Project: Transactional Process Audit of 401(k) Retirement Plans SituationA Fortune 500 home improvement company became concerned with the accuracy of a record keeping vendor’s 401(k) transactional processing.  Recent participant-related complaints gave the client reason to believe that there might be more serious systematic process failures related to the day-to-day plan processing. The client was seeking an independent, objective analysis of these processes to determine the extent of the issues and to recommend the best course of action if issues were found. How SBA Helped • Worked with the client to develop a meaningful audit scope that initially addressed “big ticket items” that are known to be a struggle for record keepers• Developed audit and test plans for transactions including loans, vesting determination, forfeitures, distributions, minimum required distributions, payroll processing, and clearing account reconciliation• Obtained access to the record keeper’s systems and executed audit plan• Documented audit results and worked with client and ERISA counsel to categorize severity of issues• Worked with record keeper to identify root causes of the identified issues• Directed process and programming changes as well as the implementation and testing of the changes ResultsSeveral problematic transactional areas were identified and corrected as part of this project.  Some errors which could have compounded into major compliance problems over time were identified and fixed as well.  Processes were put in place by the record keeper to ensure the issue would not occur again.   Additionally, reports were created to assist the client in identifying new issues and managing the record keeper on an on-going basis.
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We perform full-scale or limited-scope reviews of administrative, operational and regulatory plan procedures and requirements and provide thorough assessments with practical recommendations.

Historic Benefits Data Cleanup and Data Analysis

SBA's data analysis strategies, combined with our deep understanding of employee benefits, uniquely qualify SBA to organize, analyze, research and resolve data issues. If you are undertaking a new system implementation or conversion from an old system, data issues can derail even the best-executed implementation. If your defined benefit data is producing questionable results, let us put our expertise to work for you. If your data is not centralized, if some is on paper and some is in a database (or multiple databases), we can develop a data consolidation plan, execute that plan and analyze the results. Data analysis and cleanup projects are well-thought out and executed against a detailed test plan.

Actuarial Services

We provide the full array of actuarial valuation services for pension plans, including analysis and preparation of data, funding requirements, financial accounting standards expense and disclosure, multi-year projections and government reporting. We can support other strategic client projects, including early retirement windows, layoffs, acquisitions, divestitures, union negotiations, plan design changes, surplus asset management and more. We provide benefit calculations for entire populations or for individuals and calculation of benefit splits when both qualified and non-qualified plans exist.

403(b) Plan Consulting

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued new regulations mandating changes to the oversight and administration of 403(b) plans. These 403(b) regulations were the first issued in more than 40 years. SBA’s experts are prepared to help clients define your plan model, create a plan document, analyze potential vendors, consolidate existing vendors, create Information Sharing Agreements (ISA’s), develop employee communications, and manage your plan.