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Our objective is to make life easy for all retirement plan stakeholders. We do our best to thoroughly explain the features and benefits of our smart retirement solutions. Sometimes, you may still have a question. Click on these Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to get the information you need to understand why smart retirement solutions are best in class. 

  • Can I have an account without using a financial advisor?
    Yes, another advantage of using Aspire is that you can choose to self-direct your account, choosing whichever funds you wish from the approved list of fund families. Many participants have self-directed their account using fund companies with no-load options, and can continue to do so, often with the option of using fund families not available to them previously.
  • How do I access my account?
    Once your account is established, you will receive notification of your account number, and a PIN to access your account through our site, aspireonline.com. Once you have your login info, you can click Login then select Participant/Employee Login. Enter your account number and initial password that was provided to you in your welcome email. After you login please change your password in the My Info section of your account.
  • Will I receive account statements?
    As well as the online access, you will receive paper statements in the mail once every quarter.
  • Is Aspire paid "revenue sharing" from mutual fund companies?
    Certain mutual funds pay out part of their internal expenses to the investment providers, so in these cases, Aspire may receive some recompense from the fund company for providing these funds on their platform.
  • Why should we add Aspire as an investment provider to our Plan?
    Aspire is a recordkeeper that can act as an investment provider for a non-profit employer (district/college/church/NPO). We provide a platform that can support mutual fund solutions in a conflict-free environment. We do this by granting access to our platform to any investment firm.
  • Will Aspire sign Information Sharing Agreements (ISA) from our district/college?
    Yes, Aspire will sign ISAs from employers, pending review of any extraordinary changes to standard documents.
  • Are information sharing agreements (ISA) necessary with the mutual fund investment companies within the Aspire platform?
    No, when Aspire signs an ISA with an employer, it covers access to any of the mutual fund families offered.
  • Will Aspire work with our appointed Third-Party Administrator (TPA) and or Common Remitter?
    Yes, Aspire will work with any TPA/common remitter, and has relationships with over 30 firms currently.
  • Does Aspire require that the Employer have a Third-Party Administer (TPA)?
    No, an employer can choose to do the administrative work on a plan. The employer should consult with IRS requirements regarding reporting responsibilities.
  • Does Aspire provide Third-Party Administration (TPA) services?
    No, Aspire does not provide TPA services, but can recommend a provider through our TPA network, if requested.
  • Can employees/participants retain the services of their existing financial advisor?
    Yes, the Aspire platform provides investment firms the ability to service their existing clients.
  • Are employees/participants required to have a financial advisor associated with their account?
    No, a participant can certainly self-direct their 403(b) account, if they so choose.
  • Does the Employer have online access to view participants that elected to use Aspire?
    Yes, an employer can request online access to view all participants enrolled through Aspire in their plan.
  • Is Aspire authorized by my broker-dealer?
    Aspire creates a platform that can be used by any broker dealer or investment firm, pending approval by the sponsor. To ensure that financial advisors are paid properly, a broker dealer or registered investment advisor firm should sign a service agreement with both Aspire and the custodian, Matrix (MG Trust Company, LLC).
  • Do I need an agreement to use the Aspire platform?
    Financial advisors do not need individual agreements with Aspire; each enrollment form has an Authorized Agent form where the advisor will fill in their profile information and sign, and the participant will also sign, agreeing to the financial advisor's services on their account with Aspire.
  • How do I become approved to work in a Plan/District?
    A financial advisor can service participants in any district that does not prohibit their access. Most plans have an open firm policy, but some have limited access. To determine if a plan as an open firm policy go to Plan Search, locate the plan and refer to the Plan Details section. The Investment Firm Policy section indicates if the plan is open or has limited access. If the plan is open, the advisor can work with participants. If the plan has limited access, the financial advisor must get approval from the district to work with participants. To be listed on Find a Financial Advisor, the advisor must be a member of the Aspire 403(b) Advisor Network. To obtain information about joining the network, login to the InvestDesign Center and click on the Aspire 403(b) Advisor Network to obtain more information and how to join.
  • What is a 457 plan?
    A 457 plan is a non-qualified tax-deferred compensation plan that works very much like other retirement plans, such as the 403(b) and 401(k). Created in 1978, the name refers to the relevant section [457] of the Internal Revenue Code that governs the plan.
  • How does a 457 plan work?
    Employees set aside money for retirement on a pre-tax basis through a salary deferral agreement with their employer. Under this arrangement, the employee agrees to take a reduction in salary. The money reduced is directed to an investment company offered by the employer. The 457 contributions grow tax free until withdrawal at retirement.
  • Is an employer required to have a plan document?
    Yes, the employer must create a plan document detailing the specific rules of the 457 plan.
  • Are there any other advantages for the employer?
    Yes, a 457 does not require a Form 5500, compliance testing, or delivery of a Summary Plan Description (SPD).
  • Who can establish a Governmental 457 plan?
    This type of plan is available to state or local governments and their agencies.
  • How do 457 plans work?
    Employers or employees through salary reductions contribute up to the IRC 402(g) limit ($17,500 in 2013) on behalf of participants under the plan.
  • Who is eligible to contribute to a Governmental 457 plan?
    The employer will decide eligibility because unlike the 403(b) plan, there is no universal accessibility under the 457. This means that employers are not required to make the plan available to all employees. 457 plans can allow independent contractors to participate, unlike 401(k) and 403(b) plans.
  • Can I take a loan out against my Governmental 457 account?
    457 plans may permit loans at the discretion of the plan sponsor. To determine if a plan offers loans, check with the employer, plan sponsor or plan administrator.
  • What are my options if I change jobs?
    An employee’s options when switching jobs are: - 457 money can be moved into the new employer’s 457, 403(b) or 401(k) if the plan accepts such transfers, or into a Rollover IRA - Public (governmental) plan 457 money is not subject to the age 59 1/2 withdrawal restriction, so money can be withdrawn (subject to income tax on the full amount) without incurring a 10% early withdrawal penalty - Leave the money where it is, if the plan allows Please note that if you roll governmental 457 money into a 403(b), 401(k), IRA or any other plan (other than a 457 plan), you will lose the benefit of taking premature withdrawals without penalty. Conversely, if you roll 403(b) money into a 457 plan you do not avoid the 10% early withdrawal penalty. The plan provider or sponsor is required to account for this money separately.
  • Why should I open an IRA (Individual Retirement Account)?
    IRAs can enhance your retirement savings through a variety of tax advantages. Depending on the type of IRA you open, you can (1) reduce your taxable income through contributions and have the potential for growth in a tax-deferred environment, or (2) contribute after-tax dollars and enjoy tax-free withdrawals, even on your earnings, when you retire.
  • What types of IRA are there?
    There are 4 basic types of IRAs: Traditional, Roth, SEP or SIMPLE. Traditional and Roth IRAs can be opened by individuals without being associated with a company retirement plan; SEP and SIMPLE IRAs are opened in conjunction with a plan established by an employer.
  • Does the Internal Revenue Service provide information about IRAs?
    Two IRS publications that provide information about IRAs are: - Publication 590, Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs) - Publication 560, Retirement Plans for Small Business (SEP, SIMPLE and Qualified Plans)
  • What are the differences between a Traditional and a Roth IRA?
    Roth IRAs are generally subject to the same rules that apply to Traditional IRAs, with the following exceptions: - The contributions are made after tax, and contributions are not deductible - Roth IRA contributions are not reported on an account holder’s tax return - Distributions from a Roth IRA are not taxed, if qualified - Required Minimum Distribution rules do not apply to Roth IRAs - Account holders can contribute to Roth IRAs regardless of their age
  • What is a SIMPLE IRA Plan?
    A Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees or SIMPLE IRA plan is a salary reduction retirement plan designed for small companies with 100 or fewer eligible employees (generally, those who earned at least $5,000 in the previous year). Once adopted by the employer, eligible employees can set up their own individual SIMPLE IRA accounts to hold their salary reduction contributions, as well as contributions made by the employer on their behalf. A SIMPLE IRA is often used as a lower maintenance option to a 401(k) plan.
  • When am I eligible to participate in my employer’s SIMPLE IRA plan?
    You can participate as soon as you meet the eligibility requirements established by your employer at the time the SIMPLE IRA plan was adopted. You should receive an annual written reminder of your eligibility from your employer at least 60 days before the start of each year.
  • Why should I choose a SIMPLE IRA for my business?
    There are many advantages to a SIMPLE IRA plan: - SIMPLE IRA plans are easy to set up and run—Aspire handles most of the details - Employees can contribute on a tax-deferred basis through convenient payroll deductions - You can choose to either match the employee contributions of those who decide to participate, or you can contribute a fixed percentage of all eligible employees’ pay - You may be eligible for a tax credit of up to $500 per year for each of the first 3 years for the cost of starting a SIMPLE IRA plan - Administrative costs are low - You are not required to file annual financial reports
  • How do I establish a SIMPLE IRA plan for my business?
    Complete the Plan Sponsor Profile, the IRS Form 5305-SIMPLE and the Aspire SIMPLE IRA Employer Agreement and return to Aspire. Once signed, the 5305-SIMPLE becomes the plan’s basic legal document, describing your employees’ rights and benefits. Please keep the original for your records.
  • When can I establish my SIMPLE IRA plan?
    Typically, SIMPLE IRA plans must be established between January 1st and October 1st.
  • Who is an eligible employee?
    An employee is eligible to participate if he or she received $5,000 or more in compensation from an employer in any previous 2 years, and you reasonably expect that you will pay them at least $5,000 in the current year.
  • Must I include all employees?
    No. If you wish, you can exclude employees who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement, employees acquired in a merger or similar business transaction, or nonresident aliens to whom you did not pay any U.S. income.
  • Are all of my eligible employees required to participate?
    No. Participation is voluntary, and you may offer a SIMPLE IRA plan regardless of how many employees actually participate.
  • When must I notify employees about the plan?
    You must let employees know that you have set up the plan no later than 60 days before the plan goes into effect. You must also tell them what type of contributions you intend to make. This 60-day period, known as the election period, provides employees the opportunity to make their salary reduction choice.
  • What is the deadline for setting up each employee’s SIMPLE IRA account?
    A SIMPLE IRA account must be set up for an employee before the first date by which a contribution is required to be deposited into the employee’s account.
  • Am I required to do any administration as the employer?
    There are two key disclosures that let employees know how the plan operates, inform them of changes in the plan’s structure and operation, and provide them with an opportunity to make decisions and take timely action with respect to their accounts. You can fulfill these disclosure requirements by providing the following to your employees: - Copy of Form 5305-SIMPLE, pages 1-2. This is the form used to establish your SIMPLE IRA plan. - Copy of a Summary Plan Description. A model form is included in this guide. Please note that these forms must be provided within a reasonable time prior to the plan’s 60-day election period.
  • As employer, do I have to file annual reports with the IRS?
    No, SIMPLE IRA plans are NOT required to file annual financial reports with the government (IRS Form 8881, Credit for Small Employer Pension Plan Startup Costs). In any two years of a five-consecutive-year period, you may use a dollar-for-dollar match of as little as 1% of compensation in place of 3% matching. If you decide to change the type or amount of contributions, you must notify employees at least 60 days before the start of the plan year. You can withdraw or use your traditional IRA assets at any time. However, these distributions are usually taxable, and a 10% excise tax generally applies if you withdraw or use IRA assets before you are age 59 1/2.
  • What is a SEP IRA?
    A Simplified Employee Pension or SEP IRA plan is a written arrangement that allows your employer to make deductible contributions to a Traditional IRA associated with a SEP plan (a SEP IRA) set up for an employee to receive such contributions.
  • Why should I choose a SEP IRA for my business?
    There are many advantages to a SEP IRA plan, including: - Contributions are a tax deductible business expense - Contributions can vary from year to year or need not be made at all - Employer may exclude certain employees - Plan documents are simple and easy to administer - Administration costs are low - No government reporting is required by employer
  • Who can establish a SEP IRA?
    Any employer.
  • How do I establish a SEP IRA plan for my business?
    Fill out the IRS form, 5305-SEP, and the Aspire SEP IRA Employer Agreement and return to Aspire. Once signed, the 5305-SEP becomes the plan’s basic legal document describing your employees’ rights and benefits. Please keep a copy for your records.
  • Must I include all employees in a SEP IRA?
    No. If you wish, you can exclude employees who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement, employees acquired in a merger or similar business transaction, or non-resident aliens to whom you did not pay any U.S. income.
  • Who is an eligible employee for a SEP IRA?
    Any employee who is at least 21 years of age, was employed by a company for 3 of the immediately preceding 5 years and has earned at least $550 for 2013 (subject to annual cost-of-living adjustments in later years) in compensation for the year. You may use less restrictive requirements to determine an eligible employee.
  • What is an example of the 3-of-5 rule?
    Assume an employer has a SEP with a requirement that an employee must work for the company in at least 3 of the last 5 years (the maximum requirement) to receive an allocation under the plan. To be eligible for the 2013 year, for example, an employee must have worked for the employer for some time (no matter how little) in any 3 years in the 5-year period 2008 – 2012. Therefore, an employee that worked for the employer in 2008, 2009 and 2012 must share in the SEP contribution made for 2013. What happens if an employee elects not to participate? The employer may establish a SEP-IRA on behalf of an employee who is entitled to a contribution under the SEP if the employee is unable or unwilling to establish a SEP-IRA.
  • What is the deadline for setting up a SEP IRA?
    A SEP can be set up for a year as late as the due date (including extensions) of the business’s income tax return for that year.
  • Why would an employer choose a SEP IRA Plan?
    Unlike qualified plans, a SEP Plan is easy to administer. The start-up and maintenance costs for SEPs are very low compared to other qualified plans. Contributions are discretionary, meaning the employer decides every year if they want to fund the SEP for that year.

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