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View More Press Releases by The SPARK Institute

Press release:

The SPARK Institute Releases Draft 2009 Form 5500 Data Guidelines For 403(b) Plans, Seeks Public Comment

Issued by: The SPARK Institute

Date: Dec. 17, 2009

SIMSBURY, CT, December 16 -- The SPARK Institute has released a draft of new guidelines for ERISA-covered 403(b) plans that, due to new regulations, must now file a full Form 5500.  “The guidelines are designed to assist plans that use multiple vendors and must now gather and aggregate data from their vendors in order to complete the Form,” said Larry H. Goldbrum, General Counsel of The SPARK Institute.  “We are seeking comments on these draft guidelines from the 403(b) community by January 8, 2010 so that we have input from as many interested parties as possible.   
     According to Goldbrum, the draft guidelines describe certain approaches, expectations, roles and responsibilities of employers, aggregators and vendors in working together to complete the 2009 Form 5500.  
“We expect that these guidelines will help facilitate compliance with the new reporting requirements, create a more efficient and cost-effective process for employers to complete the Form, and build consensus among aggregators and vendors to allow more consistent service to all employers,” he said.   The draft guidelines are available on The SPARK Institute website at http://www.sparkinstitute.org/comments-and-materials.php.  Comments should be sent no later than January 8, 2010 to Larry Goldbrum at larry@sparkinstitute.org.  The final guidelines will be available to anyone free of charge.
     “Early in the year, it became apparent that the new regulations would create potential difficulties, confusion and additional expenses for all affected parties, including plans sponsors,” Goldbrum said.  “As a result, SPARK Institute members, many of whom are leading 403(b) vendors and investment providers, started working on these guidelines to address the challenges of completing the 2009 Form 5500.”
      “These guidelines will be a great help to us as we work with other vendors and Form 5500 aggregators to gather and consolidate the information,” said Jim Racine, Assistant Vice President-403(b) Initiatives at Lincoln Financial, one of The SPARK Institute member firms that worked on the draft.  “We look forward to building these into an Industry Best Practice to ease the burden of this consolidation for filings in 2010 and beyond.”
     “We are pleased to be part of an industry-wide effort to provide easy to understand guidelines to help plan sponsors who use multiple vendors to prepare their 2009 5500s,” noted Paul J Gallagher, Vice President of Product Development at TIAA-CREF, whose organization also assisted in the development of the guidelines.  “This will be a new experience for many plans, and simplifying the process can only help. TIAA-CREF is committed to working with The SPARK Institute and the rest of the industry to streamline this process.”
     “The SPARK Institute intends to monitor technology developments, regulatory changes and other developments affecting these matters during 2010,” said Goldbrum.  “As we get feedback from others in the 403(b) community, we plan to develop more formal and robust best practices and data file formats for future Form 5500 data aggregation and preparation by ERISA-covered 403(b) plans,” he said.  

About The SPARK Institute
     The SPARK Institute is the leading voice in Washington for the retirement services industry.  Through the combined expertise of its member companies, The SPARK Institute provides research, education, testimony and comments on pending legislative and regulatory issues to members of Congress and relevant government agency officials. Collectively, its members serve over 62 million defined contribution plan participants, including more than 90% of all 403(b) plan participants.

For more information: http://www.sparkinstitute.org/content-files/File/SPARK%20Institute%20Releases%20Guidelines%20for%20403%28b%29%20Form%205500%20Filings%2012-16-09%20FINAL.doc

View More Press Releases by The SPARK Institute

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