The United States Department of Labor (DOL) Office of Chief Accountant recently stressed, in a letter emailed to plan administrators, the importance of obtaining a quality audit from a qualified and experienced CPA firm. This letter explains that selecting a qualified CPA who has the expertise to perform an audit is a critical responsibility in safeguarding the plan’s assets and ensuring compliance with ERISA’s reporting and fiduciary requirements. The DOL letter states that employee benefit plan audits have unique audit and reporting requirements that make them different from other financial audits, and that substandard audit work can be costly to plan administrators and sponsors. A recent DOL audit quality study showing deficiencies in employee benefit plan audits can be found at www.dol.gov/ebsa.
A few factors to look for in a quality CPA firm are:
- The number of employee benefit plans the CPA audits each year, including the types of plans;
- The extent of specific annual training the CPA received in auditing plans;
- The status of the CPA’s license with the state board of accountancy;
- Whether the CPA has been the subject of any prior DOL findings or referrals, or has been under investigation by the state board of AICPA;
- Whether the CPA’s employee benefit plan audit work has been reviewed by another CPA, and if so, were there any negative findings.
The DOL also gives additional tips in Selecting an Auditor for Your Employee Benefit Plan.
You can also email the DOL with plan questions at PlanForAuditQuality@dol.gov
Isler CPA performs several audits of employee benefit plans (EBP), primarily defined contribution plans including 401(k) plans. Isler adheres to significant membership requirements as a member of the AICPA Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center, including meeting quality control standards and establishing annual internal inspection procedures. The Center is a firm-based voluntary membership center for firms that audit employee benefit plans. The AICPA established the Center to help CPAs perform quality audits by providing resources and guidance to help them navigate the increased complexity of employee benefit plan auditing.
Isler receives a peer review by another CPA firm every three years which includes a review of the employee benefit plan audit work. The Isler EBP team attends continuing education relevant to this area of our practice, including the AICPA National EBP Conference.