Plan Setup Guide for New Defined Contribution Plans

Updated by Richard Phillips, EA, AIFA, CPC, CPFA, QPA, QKA

Service Agreements

Once you've decided to hire us as your service provider, we will send you a service agreement for e-signature. The service agreement will establish the terms of our services, fees charged, and fee payment method.

Custodial Account Opening

If your plan's assets will be valued daily, we will open a custodial account for your plan at Charles Schwab Trust Bank. The custodial account is where your plan's assets will be safeguarded and kept separate from the employer and other service providers.

The account opening documents will be sent for e-signature and will require security verification steps.

Plan Design

Your relationship manager will consult with you about your company's goals and employee demographics to design a plan that will be a good fit.

Plan Document

After your plan design has been finalized, we will begin drafting your plan's adoption agreement and adoption resolutions.


While we're setting up your plan document, your plan's investment menu will need to be determined. A default investment will need to be selected as well as an investment option for your plan's forfeiture and suspense accounts.

If ERISA Advisers serves as your plan's investment adviser, we'll help you establish an investment committee and an Investment Policy Statement (IPS).

Your plan's IPS is the document by which the plan's investment menu will be managed and monitored. It should specify the investment objectives of the plan and performance metrics that will be used to evaluate the investments on a periodic basis.

Employee Data

We will ask you to provide information about your employees that will help us provide your plan administration services.

  • Name
  • SSN
  • Birth Date
  • Original Hire Date
  • Termination Date
  • Rehire Date
  • Address
  • Email
  • Phone
  • Officer Status
  • Owner Status
  • Relationship to Owner
  • YTD Hours
  • YTD Gross Compensation


Before your employees may start participating in your company's retirement plan, they are required to receive certain notices and disclosures, including electronic delivery notices. Your relationship manager will prepare and provide these notices.


As part of the plan setup process, we'll send you an online enrollment link that employees can use to enroll in the plan. We'll also coordinate with you on an enrollment strategy that works best for your employees. This may be a webcast, letters, emails, or any combination of these methods.

After enrolling in the plan, employees can change their deferral and investment elections by logging into their online accounts on our platform -

First Contributions

After your employees have enrolled in the plan, their contribution rates will be sent to your payroll department for setup in your payroll system. Once the first payroll cycle processes with the retirement plan contribution deductions enabled, your employee's contributions will be deducted from their paychecks and your payroll department will need to submit a contribution file to us for processing.

Once the contribution file is received, our service team will process the file and that will initiate a bank draft to pull the employee retirement plan contribution deductions from your company's bank account and will deposit those contributions into the plan's custodial account. From there, the money will be traded into each employee's retirement plan account according to their individual investment elections.

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