Making the Most out of Trade Shows
October 15, 2019

Trade shows are an essential part of the Employee Benefits industry. They function as meeting places where brokers, carriers, and other players in the space can interact. As I am freshly returned from Source Media’s “Benefits Forum & Expo”, I thought it might be useful to dive into what goes on at these shows and how to get the most value out of the experience.

In my 16 years with Judy Diamond, I’ve attended about a half dozen shows per year, on average, giving me roughly 100 shows under my belt. For someone in my position, there are two distinct and very separate show elements; the exhibit hall and the content sessions.

The exhibit hall is a big open ballroom where various vendors (usually anywhere from 40 to 150, depending on the size of the show) buy booth space and set up shop, putting up booths with fancy graphics, giveaways, and literature about their offerings. The goal of the exhibitor, generally, is to interact with the attendees (though some exhibitors are just as eager to interact with other exhibitors).

The content sessions are held in smaller rooms and are often hyper-focused on a single topic. Some examples from the Benefits Forum and Expo include “What the future of value-based care means for employers”, “HRAs: a new wave of opportunity”, or “Understanding mergers and acquisitions in retirement plans”. The sessions are most often populated by a panel of industry experts and moderated by someone from one of the Sponsoring/exhibiting companies.

With the basics out of the way, let’s dive into how to get the most bang for your buck out of a show.

Preparation

Most shows will provide the exhibitors and sponsors with a list of attendees before the show. Such a list usually contains name, title, and company but no contact info like a phone number or email address. Shows also make their list of exhibitors public, so you know who is going to be there. Step one for every show is looking over those lists and identifying the people and companies you want to connect with. You have to go into these shows with a plan… you can’t just show up and hope that you’ll get those meetings you want. Reaching out ahead of time on LinkedIn or even through company directories/websites can mean the difference between a productive show and a waste of time.

Making the most out of the Exhibit Hall

When I go to one of these shows representing Judy Diamond, I am most often there as an exhibitor in a booth. While it’s true that the attendees at the show are good prospects for JDA tools and data, our best source of potential clients are the other exhibitors. Here are some do’s and don’ts I’ve picked up along the way.

  • DO be respectful of the exhibitor’s time. If they are engaged in a conversation with a potential client, keep your distance. In that same vein
  • DO step away when an attendee comes up to their booth, and let them conduct their business
  • DON’T drop your card into their bowl to try to win a prize if you are not a potential client.
  • DON’T rely on your memory. When you get someone’s card, flip it over and jot down a note or two on the conversation, especially if it’s a good lead or you have a follow-up action.

Content Sessions

If you’re interested (as I often am) in the content sessions, it also helps to map out where you want to be and when. The full agenda of a show is usually available many weeks before the event itself, and there are usually multiple sessions available at every timeslot. Figuring out what you want to see will help ensure that you arrive early enough to get a seat. I can tell you that there is nothing more annoying than having to stand along the back wall for an hour because you got to the Keynote session 2 minutes after it started.

Trade shows can have a tremendous impact on your business, and when you execute a show well it can be one of the strongest marketing investments you’ll make. But if you take one thing from this post, let it be that simply showing up is not enough. You can’t just hide behind your table all day and hope that good leads simply walk up to you. Do the homework, set up the meetings, attend the sessions, and you will leave that show with a fat pipeline and a better understanding of your market.

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7 Data Points You Need to Use When Prospecting the Group Insurance Market – A Primer
April 15, 2019

My favorite part of the Form 5500 is the Schedule A. Here’s where we find the meat of health and welfare plans, the insurance contract disclosure and any brokers that sold the policy. Retirement plans will fill out this Schedule as well if they have an annuity contract. But for the purpose of this article, we’ll focus entirely on how to interpret a Schedule A on welfare plans. This article is an introduction, and you can check out its follow-up for building more nuanced searches.

Given how integral it is to either developing broker relationships or assessing competition, there’s a brevity of fields on the Schedule A. Never fear! Judy Diamond Associates has spent years supplementing the data and making connections so that you can work more efficiently and effectively. Below is a list of the most commonly requested data points.

Carrier Name

This is the carrier who is assuming the risk for the benefits selected on the Schedule A. You’ll only see one carrier per Schedule A. Fun fact, sometimes a sponsor name will show up in this field. I take this to mean they’re self-insuring the benefits.

Renewal Date

This usually is identical to the plan year beginning and end date. However, I like to point it out because sometimes you see a policy that ends mid-plan year abruptly. Always worth investigating!

Carrier Benefit Codes

This list of health and welfare benefits was determined by the DOL and has only 13 codes that run through the letters A – M. This is isn’t to be confused with the Form 5500s main page’s Plan Types descriptions (Section II, Field 8a) where a sponsor identifies what they’re offering to their participants. These codes are only for the policy in question and may provide a bit more detail than the Play Types. For example, in addition to the option to select Health a carrier could use HMO or select Health and PPO as a qualifier.

You might have noticed that JDA has 26 codes in their tools. That’s thanks to the next item, “Other” text entries.

The “Other” Text

When a carrier marks code M for “Other” they need to fill out a brief description of what that “Other” benefit includes. That text is searchable in The American Directory of Group Insurance, but we realized early on that it was going to be like hunting for a bent needle in a haystack. That’s because there are no guidelines on how to report benefits. So we created a process to identify the most frequently filed write-ins and created an additional 13 categories just for them. That way you’re not struggling to figure out if Accidental Death & Dismemberment was disclosed as AD&D, AccD&D, Accidental Death & portDismemeberment (that typo is intentional in this article but probably not on the policy), or any other variation you can imagine!

Lives Covered

The number of individuals covered by the policy. Caution, there’s potential for confusion here. The DOL’s instructions indicate on the Form 5500 that participants should be either current or former employees or members of the sponsor. The Schedule A’s instructions say to disclose who is covered by the policy. Some carriers interpret this as spouses, dependents, and participants because their lives covered count exceeds the Total Participants field.

Broker Name

In the fourteen years Managing Director Eric Ryles has been with Judy Diamond Associates, he’s never had a good night’s sleep. Why? Because the DOL has some fuzzy disclosure requirements on brokers. And it’s all thanks to this simple sentence:

What we see on 5500s is that there’s a broad interpretation of how to report that information. Maybe they list the individual but not the firm. Or perhaps it’s the firm, and no individual is registered (particularly common with the larger brokerages). But rarely do filers provide both an agent and the firm they work for.

Fortunately for you, Eric’s restlessness has become JDA’s restlessness. Our dedicated team identifies connections between a broker and a firm and cleaning up data, so your prospect lists and market reports are representative of your search. That’s the core of our BCMS database.

Premiums

This is the value of the contract for the benefits and lives covered. It’s a single-line field with no ability to clarify if the premiums were voluntary or determine how much each benefit on a multi-line policy earned. And yes, you guessed correctly, JDA has identified workarounds to that! Voluntary benefits are typically found on policies with write-in text, and as I mentioned above, that’s searchable. As for multi-line policies, we introduced our Modeled Premiums in late 2018 and continue to build out that model in both Group Insurance and BCMS.

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4 Tips For Getting the Most of Exports
April 01, 2019

One of the main features that separates Retirement Plan Prospector and the American Directory of Group Insurance from basic 5500 lookup tools like FreeERISA and DOL’s E-FAST is the ability to create lists and export them to an Excel spreadsheet/ CSV format. This article will show you how to use the various features of the export feature in order to create spreadsheets for Mail Merge campaigns, Salesforce exports and more.

Setting Up Your Export

First, you’ll need to set up your export by performing a search to narrow down your results. If you don’t have any search filters set up and you go to export, you’ll be prompted to return to the Advanced Search page and set up filters before you can advance. The export limit for each account is 10,000 records per export, so make sure to limit your list to get under that 10,000 record limit. If your search has over 10,000 records, you can try adding more filters to get your list under 10,000. Some examples of filters you can add are: searching by a more restrictive geographic area like a smaller zip code radius, searching by specific plan types, or searching by plans with a range of participants.

Choosing Which Export to Use

After you’ve set up your search to capture the data you want to use, it’s time to pick your export format. We have a number of different options available for you to choose from, including Mailing List, Salesforce Friendly and Complete Dataset formats. Which export you’ll want to use depends on your use case. If you’re looking to set up a mailing campaign, you’ll probably want to use the Mailing List export to get all the information like address and contact information you’ll need to set up the campaign. If you’re looking to save new leads to your CRM, we have the Salesforce Friendly export that is automatically formatted to work perfectly with Salesforce.com and can be configured to work with other CRM as well.

Custom Exports

Don’t see the right format in our prepared list of export formats? You can create your own custom export based on the information you want to see in your export. You can use one of our premade export formats as a base to get started or you can just choose the fields you want to include in your custom export one by one from a list. Once you’ve chosen those fields you want to export, you’ll save your export under a specific name so you can reuse it whenever you want. Your custom export will show up under the Standard Layout section on the Export page and you can run your custom export from there.

Running The Export

Once you’ve created your list and chosen your export layout, you’ll need to pick the file format. For our Standard Layouts, you’re able to export by Excel or CSV file format, and you can export by unique sponsors (shows one plan per sponsor) or every plan that shows up in your inital search. Once you’ve picked the format, click the link and your export will start. You can look at the bottom of the page for updates on the progress of the export. You’ll be notified of a completed export in two ways: you should see an exclamation point pop up on the Export tab in the database itself, and you’ll receive an email notifying you of your export’s completion.

 

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What is an API and Why Should I Want One? (Part Two)
March 25, 2019

Now that you have learned a little bit about what an API is, here are some ways companies have put APIs to work for them!

While the limit of how the API can be implemented is constrained only by your imagination and developers, there are some general uses many in the Retirement market are drawn. These use cases include:

FILL IN THE WHITE SPACE OF CRMS

One frequent use of an API is to fill in the white space found in many CRMs. Through hard work, many businesses have built impressive lists of leads and clients. However, even the most diligent data collection team could use the help.

  • Fill in basic company information such as business name, address, phone numbers, even their federal Employer Identification Number (EIN).
  • Load essential details about a company’s retirement plan, such as what type of plans they have and the number of participants in those plans.

In the future, JDA may even begin providing contacts for the companies such as the CFO, or heads of their Benefits and HR departments.

WEBFORM VERIFICATION

Many businesses, especially those in the small business market, seek a basic level of authentication of a potential client’s identity to qualify them as a lead. A great way to automate this basic level of qualification is through a web form.
The web form requests the client to provide some necessary information about themselves, frequently including the business name and EIN. A web form
connected to the JDA API can then instantaneously verify this data. As the API data includes confidence scores relating to a company’s name, EIN, and address,
you will get a clear picture of the lead.
This automatic first tier qualification will save you time chasing down poor leads and lower the chance for fraudulent clients.

KYC COMPLIANCE

Since the implementation in 2012 of FINRA Rule 2090 and Rule 2111, it’s become extremely important for brokers to obtain and maintain some basic facts of each  Customer they work with. Manually creating these profiles can be a daunting task. This is where the automation allowed by an API can save time and money while lessening the change for error introduced by manual input.
By connecting the JDA API into your KYC process, you gain the ability not only to verify the information you have but collect data you don’t have on your client list. You no longer have to spend the effort chasing down a client’s name, EIN, or address. Our API can be used to provide data automatically. Even periodically re-verify the data to make sure it is still accurate.

FORM CREATION SUPPORT

Often a broker may want to send correspondence to a potential client, perhaps a  proposal. Marketing departments also like to reach out to multiple leads at
the same time using a marketing template populated with text specific to the lead they are reaching out.
The API is a perfect way to bring specific data related to the target of the correspondence into the documentation process.

  • Quote generation: By pinging our API, you can pull in data such as the number of participants and plan types a sponsor currently has. This data will allow you to build tools to provide you with general quotes for a client without having to manually look up a plan or ask the client for details.
  • The Proposal: A proposal or contract template can now include information such as the types of plans a sponsor currently has, these plans’ renewal dates, and general business information such as address and phone number.

 

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What is an API and Why Should I Want One? (Part One)
March 18, 2019

What is an API?

An API (or Automated Program Interface) is a set of tools, protocols, and definitions developers use to allow automated communication between different systems. Chances are you interact with APIs and are not even aware of it. Data requests transfer information between systems. This integration supports a company’s internal or web applications without the need for manual input. It is a seamless way your data team can provide solutions to the departments they support!

APIs are limited only by your team’s ability to integrate the data the API supplies. An API is a way of transferring requested data, therefore, your development team is not limited in how and where to use the information.

What do all these terms mean?

There are many different ways to approach building an API.  Judy Diamond Associates designed their API with a developers ease of use foremost in mind.  Novices to the world of API find it useful to understand the following when discussing APIs with developers.

Authentication

Authentication is typically a key, password, or token included within a Send Request (see below). The token tells the receiving system that the request is valid and a response should be generated.

JSON

Also known as JavaScript Object Notation, is an open-standard file format. It uses text that is easily read and understood by humans to transmit data. It’s a great choice for APIs, especially those that are cloud-based.

RESTful

RESTful (often shortened to REST) APIs refer to APIs or web services which are based in REST technology. REST is a web services development architectural style commonly used by developers. Its design makes it able to handle load changes and, therefore, easily scalable. It’s a great choice for APIs, especially cloud-based ones.

Return Response

A return response generated and sent back to to the system that made the request. Typically the response will include a status code and data.

Send Request

The term describing a system reaching out to an outside database through an API. The term “call” sometimes replaces “request”.

How can I use an API?

For those in the group insurance or retirement markets, there are some amazing use cases for a well-curated API. In fact, any business plan in the B2B or small business market can increase efficiency and decrease error by incorporating an API into their workflow.  This is a big topic, and there are almost infinite ways to use an API. Check back to the next in this series where we will look into specific ways you can make an API work for you!

 

 

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Prospecting With The 5500 – Planing your First Meeting
February 25, 2019

Using 5500 Data for Offensive and Defense Business Development (Part 4): Planning the First Meeting

Meeting with a potential lead is the first big step in winning their business. While personal preference determines the style of your pitch, it is always a good idea to back your pitch with data. Additionally, being able to tailor your pitch to each lead, quickly, is invaluable.

It is also a good idea to present your pitch using multiple modes of communication. While you are going to be speaking your potential clients, remember that not everybody learns or retains information the sale way. For instance, while listening to a speaker may help some, others are more visual learners and react better to charts and graphs. Still others prefer to read the material to listening to a speaker.

It’s a good idea to plan on presenting your pitch to a lead using multiple modes of communication. That way,

PLAN REPORTS

When discussing the future of a lead’s retirement plan, it is often helpful to be able to talk confidently and clearly about the plan’s past. Building a detailed history of a plan will help you show negative trends to a client; trends that you would be able to avoid.

CHARTS AND GRAPHS

Some people learn by reading the material, others, by hearing it. Still, other people best consume data by seeing it. It is important
to provide your lead with the same data in multiple ways. This increases the impact of your presentation and makes complex information more easily understood by your potential clients.

THE VERBAL PITCH

Sometimes even the most seasoned salesperson may forget the importance of their verbal pitch. And there are times that new financial advisors may need a little guidance or inspiration in how to start a pitch. While your verbal pitch should reinforce the visuals of your graphs and the data-heavy details of your reports, it should not be a recitation of these facts. This is where an advisor can reveal how they are able to solve the challenges unique to the sponsor.

THE JDA ADVANTAGE: Our tools are designed to help make your presentation shine. Our Dynamic Plan reports consolidate all our research on a plan into one modular, presentation-ready document. Have all the specific details about a lead’s current plan neatly organized and right at your fingertips.
The performance-based Benchmarking tool in our Prospector Plus creates downloadable professional-looking graphs and charts. By inserting these into your sales deck or pitchbook, you will be able to walk your clients through all the reasons why they would be better off working with you.Need some inspiration? Prospector Plus’s talking points help walk you through a plan’s weak spots. They also suggest different approaches to help your leads understand the challenges their plan contains.

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10 Terms You Need to Know (to Understand the 5500)
January 21, 2019

If you are new to the market and the 5500, there are likely to be a ton of terms that you may be unfamiliar. Before you dig too deep into your 5500 research, review the below ten terms. Whether you are in the retirement or group insurance market, studying the below terms will help you prepare for prospecting.

1. ERISA

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. This law sets minimum standards for most voluntary health and retirement plans offered in the private sector. Yearly completion of the Form 5500 is one part of this law.

2. Sponsor

A Sponsor is a company that provides a retirement plan to their employees

3. Provider

A provider is a company or agent who services a retirement plan for the sponsor. These services can be anything from investment management, to recordkeeping, to third-party administration. You can view the providers for a plan on the Schedule C of the 5500, where you’ll find information on the company, services provided, and the compensation they’re required to disclose.

4. Participant

An employee of a plan who is part of a plan. They may be active or retired.

5. Plan Number

Each ERISA qualified plan is assigned a three-digit plan number. Together with an Employer Identification Number (EIN) and Plan Year, a specific plan may be identified. Plan numbers from 001 to 500 are Retirement plans. Plan numbers from 501 and 999 are Health and Welfare plans. A Plan number provides no other additional data.

6. Plan Year

This is the year of which the plan covers. For instance is a plan’s term runs from January 1, 2017, to December 31, 2017, the Plan Year is 2017. Much like an individual’s income tax filings, these forms are submitted yearly for the previous year. As a sponsor has 201 days to file a 5500, and they may apply for a two-month extension, a 5500 may be made available to the public up to 10 months after the plan renews.

7. Plan Type

Plan types on the 5500 are indicated by a code consisting of a number and a letter and denote the features of a plan. This could cover anything from whether a plan is a defined benefit or defined contribution plan, whether a plan is a 401(k) plan, 403(b) plan, etc., and other features of the plan like having automatic enrollment and allowing participant directed accounts. It is not uncommon for retirement plans to have several of these plan type codes listed, and understanding them is key to understanding the structure of a retirement plan.

8. Defined Benefit

A defined benefit plan are employer-sponsored retirement plans where the retirement Benefits owed are calculated using a variety of factors such as length of employment and compensation history. They more commonly referred to as pension plans. The company invests in a pension fund and pays the retirees their benefits out of that fund. Defined benefit plans used to be the more popular type of retirement plan, but 401(k)s and other defined contribution plans have swiftly become the preferred choice for retirement plan sponsors.

9. Defined Contribution

A defined contribution plan is a retirement plan paid for in contributions directly from the employee’s pay, instead of the employer. These contributions are typically tax-deferred and employers generally choose to match varying percentages of employee contributions. While the benefit from a pension plan is precalculated, and the employer is on the hook for that amount no matter what, defined contribution plan benefits ultimately depend on the level of employee contributions and the rate of return on the investments made by the plan.

10. Corrective Distribution

Every year a plan’s participant may contribute up to $18,500 into their 401(k) plan. Contributions above this amount are not allowed by the IRS. When a participant, often a Highly Compensated Employee (HCE) contributes over this amount, this overage must be corrected.

 

THE JUDY DIAMOND ADVANTAGE

Now that you are more familiar with these foundational terms, put them to use looking at some 5500s. You can find 5500s either of Judy Diamond Associate’s sites, FreeERISA and Retirement Plan Prospector.

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Prospecting the Federal Form 5500 – Finding Your Target
January 14, 2019

Using 5500 Data for Offensive and Defense Business Development (Part 2): Finding Your Target

Now that the east coast is covered in snow, it’s the perfect time to continue my series on Prospecting the Federal Form 5500, this time focusing on how to find the targets you identified in the first post of this series.

With hundreds of thousands of plans out there, it can be hard to find those plans that are right for you to reach out to. Instead of spending time, effort, and even money contacting leads with little chance of conversation, you need to focus your attention on leads that would be more receptive to your approach.

WHAT ARE RED FLAGS?

Red flags are a series of indicators the experts at Judy Diamond Associates identified to aid in locating “in trouble” plans. These red flags not only identify a potential issue in a plan, they also act as tags which can be searched for. Which 19 separate Red Flags to choose from, it is easy to tailor one’s research. Included in our red flags are:

  • High Average Account Balance
  • Corrective Distribution Issued
  • Insufficient Fidelity Bond Coverage
  • Highest Admin Fees

For more on our red flags, check out Michael Iapalucci’s outstanding new series focusing on our Judy Diamond Associate’s red flags.

PLAN SCORES

Knowing how a plan stacks up against other plans in a state or industry can be critical in identifying trends in your market. Therefore, having access to tools that quickly aid in plan comparison is a must! Plan scores provide you with seven metrics by which a plan can be compared to other plans. Additionally, JDA includes an overall umbrella score for a more high-level analysis. These scores help you understand the landscape around the plan so that you are better able to develop your pitch, or guide your business development efforts.

ADVANCED SEARCH

Now that you know what your current clients look like, you can use the advanced search feature to find other companies that match! This may seem a challenge since there are over 450 fields of data in a 5500 form. There are many options including Participant or Asset Total, to specific Red Flags, to Broker or Vendor Names. However, the advanced search box allows you to quickly narrow the field of leads from hundreds of thousands to a more manageable number of perfect leads.

PERFORMANCE BENCHMARKING

Knowing how a plan performs against other plans very helpful. It is a good idea to research a plan to determine if they really are a good lead for you. Performance-based benchmarking is a great way to accomplish this. Identifying a plan that historically underperforms plans in your region or your own book of business helps you focus your attention.

 

THE JDA ADVANTAGE:

These are just a few of the tools within Retirement Plan Prospector Prospector Plus tool designed to bring the experience of the JDA Team to your office. These tools are easy to learn, quick to use, and, most importantly, they provide results. There is a reason our clients stay with us year after year.

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Supplemental Attachments to the 5500
January 07, 2019

While the Form 5500 is an incredible treasure trove of useful and informative data, there’s a whole other level of information that sometimes gets overlooked when talking about the 5500. The schedule of assets and the supplemental attachments to the 5500 provide a ton of insight on the plan’s structure and administration. Unfortunately, the Schedule of Assets and supplemental attachments aren’t available for every 5500, as companies that file the 5500-SF are not required to disclose that information. We’re going to walk through a typical example of a Schedule of Assets and supplemental attachments to show you how you can use this information to your advantage.

Schedule of Assets:

While you will find the Schedule of Assets at the end of a filing, it’s actually a section on the Schedule H, the schedule that has financial information for the plan. The Schedule of Assets is a part of the Schedule H Line 4 compliance questions, which have many disclosures that a company might potentially need to fill out. The most common are for Line 4j, which is the Schedule of Reportable Transactions, which is required when a plan completes a transaction worth 5% or more of the plan year-end assets, and Line 4i, which is the Schedule of Assets Held at Plan Year. The Schedule of Assets is the most interesting for an investment advisor looking to learn more about a plan. You’ll get a full breakdown of all the investment vehicles the plan is invested in and the breakdown of assets invested in each separate fund. This allows you as an advisor to look at the fund lineup for a prospective client’s plan and plan your sales pitch accordingly while making you look confident and diligent in the process.

Supplemental Filings:

The supplemental filings are usually comprised of two different sections: the independent auditor’s report and the financial statements. Both can be very useful when looking for talking points when approaching new prospective clients.

Auditor’s Report:

Typically, the auditor’s report will come back with a favorable opinion or a determination that the auditor was not provided with enough information to make an opinion. That covers a majority of the audit reports, but it’s still worth skimming through to look for any language that implies errors or fraudulent activity. If there are any severe mistakes or fraudulent activity associated with the plan, the plan sponsor will be more keen on switching to a new provider.

 

Financial Statements and Notes to the Financial Statements:

The financial statements will contain a lot of the same information that the Schedule H has on assets and liabilities. The notes to the financial statement, however, are much more useful. There, you’ll have a document akin to a plan summary, where you can find out all the information on participation eligibility, employer match rates, investment strategy and more. Reading through that information will allow you to make recommendations on new plan strategy with the client and prepare a custom presentation tailored to the individual client.

Judy Diamond Associates has all of the attachments to the 5500 available in our Retirement Plan Prospector and American Directory of Group Insurance Plans. Once you’ve identified a plan you’re interested in prospecting through tools, you can get the extra data you need to go above and beyond and clinch the deal.

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One Form 5500, Two Industries
December 10, 2018

Retirement vs. Health & Welfare when Examining 5500 Data

This article is going to focus on how the disclosure differs for two distinct industries, retirement and welfare. Sponsors fill out a different Form 5500 for these plans and may even file a separate 5500 for multiple types of retirement or welfare plans. A great example is that a Sponsor might have a defined benefit plan and a defined contribution plan. That would result in two different filings with the Department of Labor.

Despite being utilized by both retirement and welfare plans, 5500 data has a lot in common between these two distinct groups. The sponsors who file are primarily private sector employers. That means that government agencies and employers are exempt, whether it’s at the city, county, state, or federal level. There’s a gray area when it comes to non-profits. Those organizations typically file a Form 990 about their expenses and funding, but not a Form 5500. They can elect to file if they feel it is advantageous for them to do so. It’s always worth a shot to search for them!

Many Schedules are filled out by both retirement and welfare plans. The publicly disclosed Schedules are A, MB, SB, C, D, G, H, I, and R. Not every plan files each Schedule though. It depends on the services utilized by the plan, its funding, and how it’s structured. Below we discuss some of the significant differences between the two plans. Most of us are solidly working within one industry, such as retirement, so you can jump to the section that applies to you.

Retirement Plans

You may have noticed while researching prospects that a behemoth like Acme Explosives disclosed their schedule of assets, an auditor’s report, their annuity carrier and vendors like their record keeper, yet Mom & Pop Shop USA has none of that. Absolutely maddening!

What you’re seeing is the Form 5500-SF, an abbreviated version of the Form 5500. In 2009 the DOL created a short form version of the 5500 to reduce the burden on companies with under 100 participants. With the exception of the Schedule SB, filed by smaller defined benefit plans, sponsors are not required to fill out schedules.

The Schedule A

If a plan has an insurance contract, they need to complete this Schedule. It’s where a carrier and their brokers are disclosed. When disclosing annuity contracts, they fill out Part II for the value of their investments.

The Schedule C

Retirement plans often use this Schedule to list their record keepers, brokers, investment managers, accounts, and so on. Section 2 is where service codes describe what they’ve been compensated for and we can see how much they received. Retirement plans are also more likely to make use of Sections 1 and 3, where we can see if a provider was eligible for indirect compensation and the formula for it.

The Schedule H

Only plans with over 100 participants file this Schedule. It has the same financial disclosure questions as the Form 5500-SF yet many more. You’ve probably heard that these filings also have a Schedule of Assets. As of 2018, the DOL doesn’t have a standard document for this supplementary Schedule. Instead, Sponsors submit attachments which are viewed as PDFs. These are always available in the Retirement Plan Prospector tool once you are looking at the Plan Details pages.

Health & Welfare Plans

Health and welfare plans can cover a wide variety of benefits. As long as they’re ERISA-qualified, it’s likely you can find it. Unlike with retirement plans, the minimum to file is 100 participants. Note, it’s not employees, but the number of individuals in a plan. If a sponsor has under 100 participants in their plan, then they’re exempt from filing a Form 5500.

The Schedule A

Like many of the Schedules, this one can be filled out by both retirement and health and welfare plans. On welfare returns, the Schedule A is often the star. Plans with insurance policies file this schedule and report the carrier, lives covered, premiums, benefits insured, and, if applicable, the brokers who sold the policy.

The Schedule C

When a welfare plan has organizations or individuals who are not insuring benefits, yet providing services to the plan, they’re disclosed here. The most commonly filled out Section is 2, where we see provider service codes and compensation values. Typically this includes third-party administrators, consultants, ASOs, and accountants. Users who work with self-funded plans make more use of this Schedule because it provides clues as to how the plan is managing their benefits.

The Schedule H

Unlike retirement plans, this isn’t as commonly filed. Roughly 10% of the plans in American Directory of Group Insurance have this Schedule. The general rule of thumb, when a plan is unfunded, they’ll file a Schedule H.

 

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