Doing your job well means a timely filing of the Form 5500 with minimal disruption to your work schedule. These four things will make your audit smoother, easier and possibly more accurate:
1. Request consistency in staff each year.
Turnover of plan auditors year after year will generally not result in a highly efficient and minimally invasive audit. If you are happy with your auditor, then request consistency year to year. If the staff sent is not efficient, then ask the audit firm for a person with more benefit plan experience.
2. Hire auditors who have direct experience with Employee Benefit Audits.
Defined contribution plan audits are generally very similar in nature. While there are some peculiarities for some plan audits, the audit process is highly repetitious. Unless you are invested in some rather unusual assets or have highly unusual terms in your plan document, then you should not expect to provide much training to the staff auditors.
3. Expect or request an itemized list at or shortly after the acceptance of the engagement.
Your plan auditor should send you a request list prior to the audit. Before arriving, your auditor should ask if you have any questions and if the requested documentation is ready for their review. If these things aren’t done, then you end up paying the auditor to be on site while you gather information.
4. Ask the auditor to communicate open items to you in a regular and timely fashion.
A well-seasoned auditor will keep you informed of open items and will do so in a clear manner. The communication process is critical to prevent a late 5500 filing. If your auditor does not respond promptly to your inquiries, then he or she is likely overwhelmed with other work or is not making your audit a priority.
Making your audit successful for all parties in large part depends on an accounting/audit firm that is proactive and responsive to your needs.