Employee Benefit Plan Audits
Employee Benefit Plan Assurance Services:
Schowalter & Jabouri, P.C. has a team of CPAs that specialize in employee benefit plan audits who have performed hundreds of these audits over the past five years. We are committed to benefit plan audits and allocate substantial resources to ensure our staff receive quality continuing professional education to keep abreast of the latest procedures and requirements unique to this industry. We are well prepared and committed to providing quality audit services to your Plan.
A quality audit will help protect the assets and the financial integrity of your employee benefit plan and provide management with the information necessary to ensure that the funds will be available to pay benefits promised to your employees. A quality audit also will help you carry out your legal responsibility to file a complete and accurate annual return and report for your plan each year. The more training and experience that an auditor has with employee benefit plan audits, the more familiar the auditor will be with benefit plan practices and operations, as well as the special auditing standards and rules that apply to such plans. Because an incomplete, inadequate, or untimely audit report may result in penalties being assessed against you as the Plan's administrator, the selection of an experienced and reliable auditor is very important.
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) holds plan administrators responsible for ensuring that plan financial statements are properly audited. There is a significant amount of risk to plan sponsors associated with the audits of their plans. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has performed audit quality studies that have identified significant deficiencies in plan audits. One of the most common reasons for deficient accountants' reports is the failure of the auditor to perform tests in areas unique to employee benefit plan audits. Accordingly, the DOL has dramatically increased its enforcement strategies with respect to audit deficiencies. The penalties for such audit failures can be substantial.
In addition to audits under ERISA requirements, Schowalter & Jabouri, P.C., has extensive experience auditing pension plans of local governments. These plans typically are not subject to ERISA requirements but many have annual audit mandates.
Our Commitment to Quality is demonstrated in many ways; to our clients, to our staff and through our methodology of delivering services to you. We have over fifteen years of experience in performing employee benefit plan audits. Schowalter & Jabouri, P.C. is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center ("EBPAQC" or the "Center") which demonstrates our commitment to quality in the performance of ERISA audits, a commitment shared by only nineteen other firms out of the hundreds of firms in the greater St. Louis area as of October 2010. Membership requires that Firms maintain a consistent level of quality with respect to audits of employee benefits plans and also has staff continuing education requirements.
We have been a member of the EBPAQC since its inception. This Center is dedicated to excellence in employee benefit plan auditing and requires its members to designate a partner in charge of ensuring the quality of our employee benefit plan services, establish quality control programs, perform annual internal inspection procedures, and make our peer review report findings publicly available. The Center membership provides us timely information on a variety of technical, legislative and regulatory subjects that we can in turn apply to your employee benefit plan audit to help ensure compliance with the appropriate standards and changes in regulations. Our clients can be assured that Schowalter & Jabouri P.C.'s audit procedures meet the highest level of performance as required by the AICPA.
ERISA requires an audit to be performed by an "independent qualified public accountant." DOL regulations prescribe conditions for independence that are stricter, in some respects, than the AICPA's independence requirements. We adhere to both the AICPA and the DOL's independence requirements.
Employee Benefit Plan Assurance Services – Engagement Approach: The objective of an audit of an employee benefit plan is to express an opinion on whether its financial statements are presented fairly, in all material respects, and in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) or an other comprehensive basis of accounting. We will begin our audit approach by determining the scope of the audit. Matters that affect the scope of the audit to be considered include the following:
- Whether the audit will be a full scope or a limited scope
- The type of trust arrangement and nature of investment options
- Involvement of third-party service organizations and other key service providers
- Whether the audit is an initial audit, merged plan, or final audit
The nature and scope of testing for both full and limited scope audits will depend on a variety of factors. Through a combination of interviews with management, review of processes and internal controls, and other assessments, an audit approach will be developed to concentrate on the Plans' various areas of risk. With this specific knowledge, we are not only able to design audit procedures which integrate management's objectives and concerns, but also to provide an independent opinion on the financial statements. In short, Schowalter & Jabouri, P.C. seeks to tailor the audit engagement for each plan being audited.
We realize that the time and energy expended during a transition is a primary concern for many plan administrators, and we have developed a methodology that makes the change worthwhile. We can make that promise because we have dedicated staff that are specifically trained to conduct employee benefit plan audits – they know what they are doing and ask targeted, relevant questions. In addition to our dedicated staff, our audit shareholders are also actively involved in all phases of our audit work.