Client Bulletin - New 5500 Filing Service

After some hand wringing, we made a big decision to change the provider that we use to help our clients upload their Form 5500 filings to the EFAST2 system run by the Department of Labor (DOL).  The evidence in favor of making this change was overwhelming once we weighed the pros and cons.  The biggest con, of course, was making a change that might cause our clients confusion or frustration.  Fortunately, our first few clients who went through filing with our new system, asked “Is that it?”

Sometimes change is good.  We dumped the old system, and converted to a company called F. T. William for our 2011 filings.

As many of you will recall, in 2009 the DOL required that all annual retirement plan reports, Form 5500 filings, be submitted to them electronically.  They rolled out a (very clunky) website that allowed a plan sponsor to get filing signer credentials, passwords, and to upload or enter their Form 5500.  There was no way with 400 filings to complete each year that we would be able to work within the DOL system.

Our pension software company, Relius, offered their platform that tied in to the DOL website.  They called their system WebClient.  Being long-time Relius users we were excited about their new offering to help us with this new electronic filing requirement.

We spent time getting training materials ready to walk clients through the system.  We spent hours training staff on the new system.  We started uploading files through the WebClient system, only to be greeted with problem after problem.  I can’t even begin to list them all. 

Things didn’t get better with the 2010 5500 filings.  WebClient was always last among their peers to roll out new forms or schedules that we needed.  It was a PC-based system, so every time an upgrade was sent we had to load that on all of our administrators’ PCs.  And problems continued to persist – both from our end and for clients trying to use the system.

Something had to give.  My staff and colleagues were encouraging me to look for another solution; they most often recommended F.T. William.  Horray – finally something was easy in this process!

All of our plans were automatically converted to the new platform.  It’s a web-based system, so no more loading software.  Email notifications will come from us, and not be automatically generated and sent without our knowledge.  The submission process is one-step for our Clients. 

So all hand-wringing aside, we are very happy that we made the switch.  Your 2011 Form 5500 filing will be run through this new platform, so I would love to have your feedback.