Plan Design and Consulting
Atlas are experts in designing the right plan for your company today with flexibility to grow into a plan and make adjustments as your company changes. Many plans are quite rigid in design and “are not” participant-friendly to encourage them to participate in the plan and contribute in greater amounts. Plan Design is critical to the overall success of the 401(k) plan and Atlas is a 3(38) Fiduciary to make sure we have your “best interests” in mind for the overall plan structure.
We know that change can be difficult, change can be time consuming and change can be a brain drain if not handled properly. Atlas knows this and works with their alliance partners to take on the majority of the “heavy lifting” during the conversion process. We setup weekly conference calls to review the progress and timeline for conversion to make sure all parties know where the moving parts stand and next steps. Essentially, Atlas takes the pain out of conversion and the intention is to make it seamless as possible while the upgraded plan is put in place.
401(k) Start-up Plans
Yes, Atlas offers “start-up plans” for companies; 401(k), 403(b), Defined Benefit(Cash Balance) Plans, Simple IRA, SEP. There are a variety of ways to setup a retirement plan and a start-up plan can be one of the more daunting processes because there is no track record at the future Plan Sponsors company. There are a lot of choices to consider; Add a Roth, What should the Company Match be for the Participants? If any? Should you consider a Safe Harbor Plan? Do you want to offer vesting on Profit-Sharing? and many more considerations. Atlas will help you navigate through this process and setup the plan that makes sense for your company to grow into as you expand. You should already know the importance of offering a 401(k) Plan (or similar retirement plan, Simple IRA, SEP, etc.) to Attract, Retain, Motivate and Reward employees. New employees will ask about a 401(k) plan and if your plan isn’t competitive with flexible and attractive options along with a Company Match, that may be the deciding factor in whether or not they decide join your company.
Annual Investment Committee Meeting (AICM)
This is part of your Fiduciary Responsibility. Some companies have this meeting every quarter or twice per year, but you need to have this at least once per year. The purpose of the AICM is to review last years performance and fee structure of the 401(k) plan from the prior year. You should have a Benchmark Analysis completed that makes sure that your asset lineup performed as expected, compared with peer assets and the fees for those assets are within DOL reasonable standards. The AICM should also review the satisfaction from the participates for the 401(k) Plan, determine if any modifications should be done to the Plan Design and tweaks to the Education Program for the participants.
Benchmarking Analysis Service
One of the critical tasks that you can perform as a fiduciary to your plan. You should use independent data and get a benchmark every 1-2 years. This analysis reviews your asset lineup, performance, fees and potential DOL audit flags. You may be eligible for a Benchmark Analysis at no charge, give us a call to discuss.
Fiduciary Compliance Services
Atlas acts as the following fiduciaries to their clients 401(k) Plans:
3(38) – Fiduciary to the Plan Sponsor and the Trustees. Atlas works on Plan Design, developing the Asset Lineup, Benchmark Analysis, Company Match Programs and Strategic Tax Planning.
3(21) – Fiduciary to the Participants. Atlas works with the participants in their “Best Interests” to help them decide on the right contribution on a frequent basis along with the assets that best fit their Risk Profile and Life Stage. Each participant is different and every participant is offered one-on-one assistance to determine their Risk Profile and which assets would be best for them over the next 1-3 years. We do recommend reviewing the asset choices every 1-3 years because of market changes and their life situation may change too. All of this information is taken into consideration when making final recommendations.
Cash Balance Plans (Defined Benefit Plans)
This is a terrific compliment to a 401(k) plan to help ownership and Highly-Compensated Employees (HCE) put away more money towards retirement and make more of their compensation pre-tax advantaged. There are many options to consider when considering a Cash Balance Plan and need to consult with Atlas to determine best course of action and plan considerations.
HSA (Health Savings Plan)
One of the best complimentary benefits to your Company Retirement. Nobody needs to remind you of the rising healthcare costs and the potential crisis over the next 10-20 years of healthcare costs taking up a greater percentage of our retirement income. A good HSA program will help you provide a much needed benefit for your employees at a very low cost. Employees can now decide how much they can put away, how much can be used for the current year and how much can be invested for approved healthcare costs for the long-term. One of the great benefits of the long-term HSA funds is the employee can decide how to invest that money. If you have the right provider, you can “mirror” the asset choices in your 401(k) Plan to reduce the learning curve and have the investments grow at a similar rate. Atlas offers this type of HSA plan and encourages the same asset lineup as the 401(k) Plan. Remember in order to qualify for a HSA plan you have to have a “High-Deductible Company Health Plan”. Inquire about a HSA plan and improve your employee benefit satisfaction almost immediately.
Group Life Insurance
This is a terrific benefit for employees that are just starting or have families. They can now acquire a terrific life insurance policy at a discounted rate. In the past, usually only very large companies were able to offer this benefit, but now a company with a minimum of 20 employees can offer Group Life Insurance. As a convenience to the employees, the premiums can be taken out of the paycheck and minimize the effort of paying it separately. There is essentially very little or no cost to the employer depending on how the Group Life Plan is setup.
By offering Annuities, specifically Fixed-Index Annuities(FIA) it gives the employees an option to protect a “percentage” of their retirement funds. The FIA protects the principal for the funds put into that contract and it can only go up in value. The employee only pays a fee when the lock-in period takes place (depending on the term of the FIA contract, could be every two or three years for the lock-in period). Once the lock-in period takes place and the new growth is added to their balance, that creates a “new account balance floor” in their account and it can never go down based upon any market conditions. There are “no” annual fees (from the FIAs that Atlas represents) for the FIA.