The SPARK Institute has released draft guidelines that help 403(b) retirement plans comply with new regulations, including Form 5500.

“The guidelines are designed to assist plans that use multiple vendors and must now gather and aggregate data from their vendors in order to complete the Form,” said Larry Goldbrum, general counsel of The SPARK Institute.

He said the draft guidelines describe the approaches, expectations, roles and responsibilities of employers, aggregators and vendors in working together to complete the 2009 Form 5500.

“These guidelines will be a great help to us as we work with other vendors and Form 5500 aggregators to gather and consolidate the information,” said Jim Racine, assistant vice president of 403(b) initiatives at Lincoln Financial. “We look forward to building these into an industry best practice to ease the burden of this consolidation for filings in 2010 and beyond.”

“We are pleased to be part of an industry-wide effort to provide easy to understand guidelines to help plan sponsors who use multiple vendors to prepare their 2009 5500s,” said Paul Gallagher, vice president of product development at TIAA-CREF. “This will be a new experience for many plans, and simplifying the process can only help. TIAA-CREF is committed to working with The SPARK Institute and the rest of the industry to streamline this process.”

The draft guidelines are available on The SPARK Institute website at http://www.sparkinstitute.org/comments-and-materials.php. Comments should be sent no later than January 8, 2010 to Larry Goldbrum at larry@sparkinstitute.org.

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