Questions for the Plan Sponsor

In order to provide valued expertise and guidance regarding an employer-sponsored retirement plan, every professional advisor should ask the prospective plan sponsor the following questions.  Alternatively, you can bring Pinnacle Plan Design into the initial design meetings to go through the questions with the prospective plan sponsor directly. Each question provides valuable information that is essential to structuring and providing effective retirement plan services.

In order to begin the plan design process for your client, please fill out the following form.

  • Is the objective to provide the partners or owners with the maximum contributions? Maybe the goal at hand is to share the company’s profits with all of the employees? Do they want to reward savers? The goal of the plan provides insight that guides how the plan is designed. __________________________________________________
  • Determine if profits and cash flow are sustainable for plan funding. Funding levels and obligations vary depending on the type of plan and the way it is designed. Certain plan designs allow for discretionary (i.e. optional) profit sharing contributions, while others require other forms of mandatory ___________________________________________________________________________
  • Gather the information you know about the other plan, even if it is no longer in existence (e.g. plan type, plan name, termination date, if applicable). If the company has an existing SIMPLE IRA, they are not permitted to make allocations to another retirement plan in the same year. If a defined contribution or defined benefit plan is currently in place, is it Safe Harbor? If so, changes may not be available this plan year, either. Is this a startup plan? __________________________________________________
  • This will have relevance as to how the earned income (i.e. compensation) for the business owner is determined and, further, have an impact on certain minimum and maximum limitations. It will also determine where the relevant data will be obtained to determine the earned income (e.g. from the W-2, vs. the Form 1040's Schedule C, etc.). __________________________________________________
  • Name of OwnerOwnership %Owner of other business? (Y/N)Name of other businessDoes this business have employees? (Y/N) 
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    This helps determine the pool of potential eligible employees, which greatly affects plan design and contribution values. If there is ownership elsewhere, conduct due diligence first. __________________________________________________
  • [NAME OF OWNER]is the [RELATIONSHIP]of [EMPLOYEE(S)] 
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    Certain direct relatives of the owners are considered to own part of the company as well, which can affect the determination of the key and highly compensated employees. Understand who the family members are, the extent to which they wish to participate in the plan, and ensure the information is provided in the census. __________________________________________________
  • Changes in structure or demographics can impact the contribution requirements and mandatory testing results. Be proactive and plan for the future to avoid costly mistakes in plan design later. __________________________________________________________________________________________
  • Please provide any additional information that may be helpful during the plan design process.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


Pinnacle Plan Design is a third-party administrator (TPA) for employer-sponsored qualified retirement plans. We specialize in retirement plan design, administration and actuarial consulting. Pinnacle has a local presence in Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona (AZ), as well as Houston, Texas (TX) and Columbus, Ohio (OH), and we proudly serve businesses nationwide.

Retirement plan design may vary dramatically based upon workforce demographics, tax objectives, owner’s retirement requirements, and desired flexibility. We recognize the importance of tailoring retirement plans to the specific goals of the people the plan is meant to serve.

See Types of Retirement Plans for a description of the various plan designs that may work for the organization. Pinnacle Plan Design administers and designs traditional defined benefitcash balance401(k)profit sharing, and money purchase plans.

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