MEPS have become very popular of late and have certainly become a burgeoning businessfor me. That being said, any burgeoning business will bring in the entry of many new players in the market. The problem for the MEP area, it may bring in a lot of providers that have no background in MEPS or understand how they actually operate.There has been discussion of late of the Department of Labor (DOL) looking at MEPs of late because someone asked someone from the DOL at some benefits conference. The person for the DOL said that they would be taking a closer look at MEPs that are “open”, meaning that the plans are not affiliated through an association like a bar association or some type of civic group. Low and behold, a lot of people started to act as if the MEP sky was falling. You had advisors questioning of having their clients in MEPs and plan providers consider curtailing their interest in them. Calm yourselves, will you? The sky isn’t about to fall just yet and there is no reason to panic. Having someone from the DOL say something at some Midwest benefits conference is hardly regulation. However, if you read between the lines, I think MEPs that really look like individual plans bundled together for the sole purpose of avoiding separate 5500s. What types of MEPs are these? I think MEPs where you have the third party administrator (TPA) or a registered investment advisor as the plan sponsor. If the plan sponsor is an association or a company that is unrelated to the TPA, I don’t think you have anything to worry about. If I’m wrong and the DOL is going to act on open MEPs, they would offer some relief to wind them down and allow the participating employers to spin them off.
Multiple Employer Plans are a great alternative for business owners looking to provide a qualified retirement plan for their employees without the work and complexity. An additional benefit is minimized risk to the employer.
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