Accounting & Auditing | Ethics & Professional Issues | Legislative / Regulatory

DOL Speaker Headlines Employee Benefit Plan Event; New Certificate Offered

In response to a highly critical inspection report issued by the Department of Labor last year, the accounting profession has been actively offering programs to enhance auditor's performance of Employee Benefit Plan audits and compliance with related DOL and industry standards. Major programs in this effort include the MACPA's Employee Benefit Plan conference being held next week, and the AICPA's new Employee Benefit Plan Audit Certificates, demonstrating advanced training.  

DOL's 2015 report, "Assessing the Quality of Employee Benefit Plan Audits,” found that close to 40% of employee benefit plan audits had major deficiencies. The deficiency rate ranged from 12% of audits performed by the the largest firms (firms that perform 100 employee benefit plan audits or more), to 76% of audits performed by the smallest firms (firms that perform less than 25 employee benefit plan audits).   

May 16 Conference Features DOL's Auerbach

The MACPA's conference, taking place on May 16 (offered live or via webcast) features a keynote from Michael Auerbach, CPA, Chief, Division of Accounting Services, Office of the Chief Accountant at the DOL, and Auerbach is participating in additional panels throughout at the day, together with industry experts.  

Kathryn E. Petrillo, Partner in Charge of Aronson LLC's Employee Benefit Plan Services Group and a member of the planning committee for the MACPA event, observes, "This is a must-attend conference for auditors of employee benefit plans who are new to these audits and those experienced auditors who want to stay in compliance with the standards and get their audit questions answered." She notes that the event (with a simulcast option), "offers plan sponsors the chance to come together with their peers, hear from the Department of Labor, and get practical guidance on how to address compliance problems."

Attendees will also learn about specific 401(k) plan design provisions and explore employee benefit and executive compensation planning opportunities.  "Anyone who has benefit plan responsibilities will gain valuable knowledge from these sessions," adds Petrillo.

 June Conferences Offer AICPA Certificate Training

A series of events will be held by the MACPA in June, to prepare professionals for the AICPA's new Employee Benefit Plan Certifications. Individuals and groups can purchase training programs offered by the Business Learning Insitute, an affiliate of the MACPA, or the exam fee can be purchased separately.  

The May 16 Employee Benefit Plan conference and June training events represent follow-through on the MACPA's commitment to drive improvement in employee benefit plan audits.

MACPA Executive Director and CEO Tom Hood invites employee benefit plan auditors to take advantage of these specialized training opportunities, and reiterates his message from last year, "You can help us with your continued support and, most importantly, with a 'tone at the top' that emphasizes continued and increased audit quality, a commitment to the highest standards of ethics and integrity, commitment to developing your staff to be competent and up to date on the latest standards and regulations, and active participation in peer review and the profession's quality initiatives." 

For further background, see earlier posts by Bill Sheridan from the CPA Success blog: