The Importance of a Quality Employee Benefit Plan Audit

Employee benefit plan (EBP) audits are much more than a simple audit of net assets and income contained in the benefit plan’s financial statements. They also serve as a safeguard to participants, plan management, and plan fiduciaries through compliance testing procedures. In addition to testing the plan’s operational compliance in accordance with DOL/IRS regulations and the plan document, auditors will also note areas for improvement in internal controls and other matters through written communications with management.

It is very important to operate the benefit plan in accordance with the DOL/IRS and plan document for many reasons, such as:

  1. It prevents unnecessary fines and penalties, including personal fiduciary responsibility.
  2. It protects the participants’ assets.
  3. It prevents the plan from losing its tax-exempt status.

Cray Kaiser has extensive experience with EBP audits. Often, when we work with a new client on an EBP audit, it’s their very first benefit plan audit. We also see many cases where the client’s plan was previously audited by a firm without the training and expertise needed in the complex area of EBP audits. During the most recent audit season, we performed an EBP audit for a plan whose previous auditor had stopped performing EBP audits altogether. We discovered numerous operational deficiencies, which if left uncorrected could have jeopardized the plan’s tax-exempt status and potentially exposed the plan sponsor and fiduciaries to fines and penalties. We worked with plan management to identify corrections and processes to prevent the issues from occurring again. Internal control weaknesses were also brought to management’s attention.

Often, plan auditors are selected solely based on fees. While fees are an important consideration, there are other crucial factors to consider when selecting a plan auditor. EBP auditing is a specialized area with complexities not found in traditional audit engagements of company financial statements. For this reason, it is essential to select a firm that:

  • has sufficient professional experience in auditing employee benefit plans.
  • participates in regular training and updates in the EBP audit area.
  • is independent and appropriately licensed.

At Cray Kaiser, we are committed to quality EBP audit engagements. Our highly experienced EBP audit team continually monitors developments and changes in the industry. Cray Kaiser is also a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center, a select group that provides EBP audit resources and industry updates to member firms. Our experience and resources ensure that our EBP audit clients receive rigorous, precisely executed audits to support plan operations and help plan fiduciaries fulfill their responsibilities. If you would like more information on EBP audits, please contact us.