Blue Ridge ESOP Associates Industry News

The Importance of the ESOP Timeline

Posted by Ray Mazurowski

Dec 19, 2017 3:00:00 PM

February 2017-Watch.jpgIt’s the start of a brand new Plan Year and my Blue Ridge Administrator is asking me to participate in an annual welcome call to discuss the timeline. Didn’t we just do this last year? Why does my Administrator keep pressing this matter? What is the importance? The answer to these questions is YES, the timeline is a very important tool in ensuring a successful administration process.

The ESOP timeline is the “roadmap” to a successful Plan Year. So what does the timeline all entail? Here are just some of the key elements on the timeline:

  • The date Census Data will be sent to Blue Ridge
  • Year-End Letter Data Collection submitted to Blue Ridge
  • The date Trust information will be sent to Blue Ridge (including bank statements, reconciliations, distribution details, loan payment details, etc.)
  • The date Blue Ridge will complete the Census Report
  • The date Blue Ridge will complete the Trust Reports
  • Estimated timing of the Annual Share Value
  • The date Blue Ridge will complete the Summary of Accounts Report
  • The date Blue Ridge will complete the Final Reports and make them available for us to view through the ESOPConnection website
  • The date Blue Ridge will complete and deliver the Participant Statements
  • Distribution timing
  • Form 5500 and 8955-SSA filing deadlines

We can customize the timeline to add any important items you see fit. From everything to distribution of preliminary diversification forms, planned calls, employee meetings, certain disclosure deadlines, etc., the list goes on. A typical timeline is about a page long but some may be multiple pages depending on the content included.

Unless predetermined earlier, your Administrator will reach out to you towards the end of the existing Plan Year or within the early start of the new Plan Year. We recommend having a conference call with all key ESOP contacts to lay out that “roadmap” before the start of the ESOP Plan work. Early communication between all parties will deliver a successful and effective timeline.

To ensure that all parties stay on task with the proposed timeline, we feel it is a best practice to assign one main contact from your company to be responsible for monitoring the timeline on your end. Your Administrator will keep you up to date and will follow up with you if anything gets off track. We understand that delays can happen, so we will follow up with you and modify the timeline if your timing expectations change. It is imperative that all parties are kept up to date on the annual processes. We want to ensure everyone is satisfied including the Plan Participants.

Your Administrator will send you a PDF copy at the beginning of the Plan Year but the timeline is continuously being updated. It is best to keep track of the timeline through the ESOPConnection website for updates. Items will be updated as they are completed. It truly is a powerful tool. If you would like to discuss more details of a successful ESOP timeline, please contact your Blue Ridge Administrator.

PS:  If Blue Ridge is responsible for your 401(k) administration, key deliverables for the 401(k) plan can also be incorporated into a timeline for you.