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B51s: Understanding Plan Updates

No matter what your role in the process, there are numerous steps involved in setting up a retirement plan. From acquiring documents and signatures, to selecting an advisor, to choosing funds, it isn’t always easy to get your ducks in a row. Still, you’ve gone through the steps and your client is happy because his or her plan is up and running… and trading! And then the client wants to change the previously selected broker-dealer. Or the lease is up and he or she decides to change offices.

Luckily for you, these updates can be made easy with the help of your admin team at Mid Atlantic. By following some rules of thumb regarding updating plans, you can not only smooth the transition for you regarding paperwork, but also put your clients at ease because their plans will still function properly despite any changes they may request.

What are B51s?
A B50 is a paper or electronic request to establish a new account. A B51 on the other hand is a paper or electronic request to update the fund registration of an existing account. B52s are a whole different ball of wax, which we will save for another day.

Types of B51s
There are several types of plan updates that can be processed via B51. Registration changes are the most common as trustee, plan name, address, or tax ID number can change somewhat frequently. Depending on the plan in question, these updates may or may not be sent out via B51. For example, in the event that Mid Atlantic is the custodian, the fund companies do not need to know that ABC Company is moving buildings, as the funds are registered with Mid Atlantic’s name and address. On the other hand, if Mid Atlantic is the custodian and the plan name is changing, that is something the funds would need to update as it is part of the registration needed for the plan to trade.

The second type of B51 that we commonly process is broker updates. This is more cut-and-dry and does not matter what type of plan you have. If your broker or registered investment advisor information is changing, we will send it out to the fund companies.

What is required to make an account update?
There is documentation required, depending on account type:

  • For registration updates, we need a corporate resolution for trustee or plan name updates, or a document on company letterhead stating the change for an address update.
  • Should the plan be reporting only, these documents are required and must be signature guaranteed. The same applies for plan name updates for custodial plans.
  • Broker updates can be made by submitting the MATC Broker Update form with the required information, detailing a FINRA registered broker. This should be signed and medallion signature guaranteed as well. Mid Atlantic can accept a document without the guarantee. However, should we need to send a manual version to the fund companies, they will require the medallion.

How do we double check this?
Mid Atlantic has processes in place to help ensure account updates are made in our system, tracked at the fund company, and verified to ensure they have been completed. We have multiple teams heading up this process to check these updates daily and make 2-3 electronic attempts, followed by a fax, and then a phone call to inquire if the fund isn’t changing their system records according to the instructions submitted. Most electronically sent B51s are accepted without issue. Some fund companies are trickier than others, but it is of course vital we are sending out the correct information in the first place. Otherwise, they may not update or, worse, they will update incorrectly.

What happens if it’s wrong?
The good news is those “multiple teams” described above are there to make sure we check, double-check, and triple-check to help make sure that this information is right. However, all submissions are based upon what our clients send over to us, so it is important that information is verified beforehand. If the information is wrong, it could impact trading and/or 12b-1 commission payments. Both can cause issues down the road. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so a good rule of thumb is to always double-check an update before sending.

Where can I view this information on the Mid Atlantic website?
There are two ways you can view updates or the current status of an update within our system. If the update is for plan registration, this can be viewed in our system on the plan’s general profile page. If you are interested in a broker update, you can view this information on the plan’s broker review page. To see the progress at the fund level, one can view the plan’s registrations page and browse through the update status for each fund company. This will allow you to see which funds have updated and which have not.

Compiled by Alexandra Cairone

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