Need help meeting 403(b) “meaningful opportunity” standards?

According to the National Tax-Deferred Savings Association (NTSA), 403(b) regulations speak to the universal availability requirement that there be an effective opportunity given for purposes of new enrollments, or changes for current participants in the 403(b) plan. However, what comprises an effective or meaningful opportunity isn’t so clear.

The NTSA recommends that, since the employee population is diverse, it makes sense that the education program you put in place should also be diverse. You may want to consider providing the following:

  • Online tools for the computer-oriented population of employees. These may include financial calculators, videos, or online enrollment and account management and may be provided by approved vendors and third-party-administrators (TPAs).
  • Periodic seminars and workshops that cover a wide variety of topics such as the primary pension plan (WRS), Social Security benefits, and voluntary savings in a 403(b) or 457(b) plan.
  • Face-to-face meetings with benefit consultants. Studies reveal that there is increased participation when benefit consultants are providing personal service to encourage enrollment and increase contributions over time.
  • Involvement from key administrators of the employer. For example: (a) written communications emphasizing the importance to employees of saving voluntarily in 403(b) and/or 457(b) plans; (b) seminars and workshops that include introductory remarks by a key administrator to announce/describe the plan available to employees to help them reach and enjoy a comfortable and timely retirement.

Some plan sponsors create a written Education Policy Statement that documents this process. While not required, it may serve as evidence to a field examiner that the proper steps have been taken to provide meaningful notice to employees of the right to make elective deferrals to the 403(b) program and that all necessary steps have been taken to educate employees.

Your no-cost solution

Meeting this definition of effective opportunity and creating an education plan may seem daunting. Fortunately, Member Benefits is here to help. We provide at no cost:

If you have questions or want more detailed information, call us at 1-800-279-4030.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal, financial, or tax advice. Certain recommendations or guidelines may not be appropriate for everyone. Consult your personal advisor or attorney for advice specific to your unique circumstances before taking action. The 403(b) retirement program is offered by the WEA TSA Trust. TSA program registered representatives are licensed through WEA Investment Services, Inc., member FINRA. All investment advisory services are offered through WEA Financial Advisors, Inc. Seminars are free to attend; however, if you choose to invest in the WEA Tax Sheltered Annuity Trust or WEAC IRA program, fees will apply. Consider all expenses prior to investing.

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