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  1. Don’t let cost be your main criteria – When you think all TPAs are the same and you eliminate a firm based on price, you may be missing the big picture. Retirement plans are very complex and require more skill than just “pushing a button” on software.  A low cost provider may just “push the button” and not have a full understanding of how to ensure that a client’s plan is really being administered correctly.
  2. Partner with a qualified, trusted TPA firm – Getting to know your TPA can be a huge resource for you and your client. They can provide you with up-to-date compliance and industry information. You can often have an open line to ask questions and get honest answers and also get tips on “best practice” areas to ensure the plan runs efficiently. Build a relationship and you may see a two-way street for opportunities and great service.
  3. Not all 5500’s are created equal – While anyone can complete and file a form 5500 you want to make sure that you have selected a professional TPA that has done ALL the necessary work to ensure that the correct information and numbers are being reported to the DOL. Do you want the DOL to have bad, missing or incorrect information about you and your clients plan?  Again you get what you pay for.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals – A good TPA should be able to give you several local advisor and client referrals.  Is the TPA local and do they have a good reputation in your area or are there only sales people and no local support teams to assist your clients?   A local TPA may often provide better service than a TPA that sends its work out of state.
  5. Keep it Personal -  Good communication is the key!  A professional TPA should be able to assist you on sales calls and client plan review meetings.  They should assist with all the necessary vendor paperwork and be part of the setup and provider transition.  Everyone should be in the loop regularly.