ASC Fall 2010 Newsletter

In this issue:

New DV Direct and Gemini Enhancements Delivered!

We expanded the functionality of DV Direct and Gemini this summer by adding many new enhancements. In addition to adding the ability for participants to change their Roth deferral amounts online as well as adding Roth distribution capability to the Withdrawal Wizard (when trading with Matrix), following is a brief summary of new enhancements added: New Plan Sponsor options in Gemini
  • Uploading Files: In addition to the ability to download and upload various files, a new option was added specifically for payroll files to be loaded directly to a plan and split based on participant elections. A series of data checks are performed before loading the file to the plan to help validate the data. This new option will significantly improve the efficiency of payroll processing with daily valued plans.
  • A Plan Level Statement option was added for plan sponsors to request a current plan statement on demand.
  • A Plan Level Loan Summary Statement was added for viewing the current status of outstanding loans in the plan.
  • Advisor Access when working with participants: There are often situations where a plan sponsor or advisor may need to consult directly with a participant, or even initiate activity on behalf of a participant (e.g., transfers and rebalances). We’ve added an option to display the Update pages (transfers, rebalances, elections etc.) when accessing a participant account via the Plan Sponsor or Investment Professional login.
New Participant options in Gemini
  • Expanded Passwords: Participants can now use expanded passwords when logging in. Longer passwords and more complex characters provide added security.
  • E-Statement Options: New options are now available for delivering Summary Statements electronically in lieu of paper statements. Previously, the option to create individual PDF files for each participant when creating Summary Statements was added. This enables users to post periodic statements on Gemini which can then be downloaded by participants.
  • The concept is to provide electronic statements by default. These will not be delivered via email, but rather posted on Gemini to allow participants to download, view and save their periodic account statements. Further, participants can be provided with the option to choose to receive paper statements. For those who have selected paper statements, they are easily created without having to individually select employees or print all employees.
  • Inception to Date Contributions: A new option has been added to allow inception-to-date contributions to be displayed on the Source Summary page in Gemini. This is a plan-specific option as the accuracy of historical data can vary from plan to plan.
  • Maximum Loan Amount: The maximum loan amount available to a participant is now displayed on the Loan Modeling page.
  • Additional Messaging Capabilities: The ability to add customized messages has been added to the Source Summary, Loan Summary and Transaction History pages.
We are excited to have delivered these enhancements and look forward to our next round of development. Questions can be addressed to Bob Long at blong@asc-net.com or Tom Lusby at tlusby@asc-net.com.

Tips for Adobe Reports

Most ASC or DGEM reports are generated using a graphic mode printer interface to send reports to a printer or Adobe pdf files. Users often ask ASC Support questions related to Adobe print settings or report editing. Though we are not Adobe experts, we can offer a few tips based on our experience. Most of this functionality requires a full Adobe version, not the free Adobe Reader that may be downloaded from the Internet. If you are currently printing to Adobe from ASC, you have a full version. (In these notes, we are referring to Adobe version 8.) File Names and Path – ASC programs set the default file name, but Adobe controls the path and folder to which the files are saved. To change the default path, go to your computer’s Printers and Settings, highlight your Adobe printer, right click and select Properties . Select the General tab and then click the Printing Preferences button. You can now set up a different default path or choose to “prompt” each time, as well as choose to “ask to replace existing pdf file” rather than replacing automatically. Combining Files – Multiple Adobe files may be combined using the File-Combine Files menu command or the Combine Files button on the toolbar. Highlight the files to combine, dragging and placing them in the order you wish them to appear. For example, you can use this feature to add the ASC Compliance reports to the same file as the Valuation reports and deliver a single file to a Plan Sponsor. Splitting Files – A single Adobe file may be split into multiple files using an Adobe add-on such as “AutoSplit”. This add-on allows users to split files based on page counts, bookmarks, selected text, etc. For example, you may want to use this add-on to to split a group of Safe Harbor Notices created via the DGEM wizard. Editing – Minor edits can be made to Adobe files using Adobe’s “TouchUp Text Tool” under Tools-Advanced Editing. Highlight the data you wish to edit, then type in the new text. For more significant edits, you may wish to copy a block of text to Word or Excel. To do this, highlight the block, the select Edit-Copy (or Ctrl-C) and then Edit-Paste (or Ctrl-V). Converting to Doc File – Adobe files may be converted to doc files using the File-Export or File-Save-As commands in Adobe. Some files produce results that are easier to edit than others. If these aren’t sufficient, you may want to look into PDF Converter type programs. Several inexpensive packages are on the market that produce good results. Creating PDF File from Doc File – Use the File–Create PDF menu command to create a PDF file from an existing file such as a Word or Excel file. For example, you may use this feature to insert a cover letter created in Word at the beginning of a PDF ASC report package. Reduce File Size – Adobe files may be reduced in size using the Document-Reduce File Size option. This allows the user to restrict the backward compatibility years, shrinking the file size. This is important for 5500 attachments as the DOL EFAST2 server limits file sizes. ASC’s 5500 program limits each attachment to 4 mb to insure that the total submission package does not exceed the DOL limits. Copy and Paste – Data in Adobe may also be copied and pasted into other programs, such as Excel. This works especially well for tables that can be pasted, allowing for further calculations. Copy Picture – You can select to copy an image of a section of the document using the Tools – Select&Zoom – Select Tool. You can then paste the image into another program or email. Inserting or Deleting Pages – Pages from other Adobe files may be inserted in an existing file using the Document-Insert Pages command. Delete pages can also be found under the Document menu command. Compare Files – Inexpensive software that will compare PDF files is available on the market. These programs compare two PDF files and highlight differences. This may be helpful to identify differences in reports produced at different times ASC Valuation File Name Settings – Users have flexibility in specifying the format of the print file name used when creating PDF files under vsReports (Reports-Valuation and Employee Statements) and vsCompliance (Reports-Compliance). The current default format of the report name is “ID_Report_Plan”, meaning there is a Plan ID (D121234) followed by the Report Name (ADPTest) followed by the Plan Name. To activate one of these alternate report formats, have your IT group edit the ASC configuration file \ASC\ASC.INI. Find the section [ASC] and add one of the lines listed below in that section.
  • Use this entry to name the reports like this: ADPTest_PlanNameInc. ReportDocNameFmt= Report_Plan
  • Use this entry to name the reports like this: PlanNameInc_ADPTest. ReportDocNameFmt= Plan_Report
  • Use this entry to name the reports like this: ClientID_Report_Plan ReportDocNameFmt= ClientID_Report_Plan

Prestigious ASPPA Educator’s Award goes to ASC’s Bob Long

Bob Long, CLU, ChFC, APM will be presented with the ASPPA Educator’s Award on October 17th at the ASPPA Annual Conference. Bob, a member of the ASC team for over 10 years, was selected in honor and recognition of his tremendous contributions to ASPPA’s educational programs and for his leadership in moving these programs forward.According to ASPPA, the educational opportunities available in the retirement field would not be as strong as they are today without Bob’s influence and leadership. Not only has he made significant strides in the operational aspects of ASPPA’s educational programs, but his invaluable educational contributions will have far reaching effects on ASPPA’s membership, continuing professional education opportunities and the next generation of retirement plan professionals. Congratulations Bob!

Interview with ASC Senior Software Developer – Mike Boecher

Mike Boecher, Development programmer at ASC, celebrates 24 years with ASC this October. A Math and Computer Science major, Mike’s first job was with Advanced Retirement Systems completing tax forms and designing plans. He later moved on to administering plans and some compliance programming at a company that used ASC software. Mike explains, “Back in those days, ASC President Alan Gould would actually come out to the clients in order to perform updates. I got to know Alan pretty well during these visits and we became quite friendly. I loved programming much more than the administering that I was doing and was really looking to get into that. So I decided to ask Alan Gould if ASC needed any more programmers. Alan said yes and I decided to join the ASC team.”  
Q: What’s a current challenge that you are facing as a development programmer in the pension industry?I would say that keeping up with the IRS’s constant modifications, amendments, etc. and then making sure that the program still works with client interpretation is a real challenge. But that’s what I’m here for and I’m happy to be working out such challenges and thoroughly enjoy it.Q: What is your work relationship with the ASC support staff? I work closely with Sheryl Stucky who leads the Support Team and acts as the liaison between the clients and the programmers. For example, she’ll let me know about any client requests and I will try to include as many of them as possible in the upcoming release. Q: What abilities do you have to use on a daily basis in your job? Patience and time management. I get a lot of requests from a lot of people and it’s important to make time for it all. Q: How do you manage on-the-job stress? Honestly, this is my dream job! I love programming and I program during my spare time as well. So I can’t really say there is any stress to manage. Q: What’s helped you be successful at ASC? The fact that I knew the industry prior to working at ASC has really helped. When Sheryl comes to me with client requests, it helps that I know what she is talking about. My math knowledge has helped as well since there is a lot of math in the programming. Q: I think I already know the answer to this but how do you feel about working for ASC after all these years? Two words – dream job! Nothing not to like. Q: What do you like to do in your spare time? Like I said I love programming and often write programs for friends and for my hobbies. I also golf and bowl, and go on cruises. My wife and I have a trailer that we like to travel in. I also garden. We’ve cruised to Mexico, the Caribbean and Alaska. And we’ve been to Crater Lake, Oregon with our trailer. It was spectacular. Q: Anything else you like to do just for fun? I make my own beer which entails mashing grains to convert the starches to sugar, adding yeast to the wort to ferment the sugars, then bottling and aging the beer to carbonate it. If you like beer, like I do, it’s fun to be able to create one that you can’t get commercially. Sports are probably my favorite form of entertainment. I follow the Dodgers and the Saints. And we have a dog called Doc, a terrier mix that we enjoy a lot. “We appreciate Mike’s loyalty and commitment to ASC,” says President of ASC, Alan Gould. “Mike has been with ASC for almost 25 years, that type of continuity is a key ingredient to successful product development and support.” Silver Consulting Service: We can help with your ERISA Questions! Were you ever faced with a complicated ERISA question and needed the answer right away? Have you discovered a plan defect and wondered where to turn for assistance in planning a strategy to correct the problem? If so, ASC Institute (ASCi) can help. With our Silver Consulting Service, you have access to experienced ERISA attorneys who can help you answer those questions with confidence. Subscribers to our Silver Consulting Service receive timely and comprehensive answers to technical and regulatory questions that come up regularly in the day-to-day administration of retirement plans. Having ready access to ERISA experts can provide valuable assistance to your practice and clients. By signing up for the ASCi Silver Consulting Service, you can budget a small monthly amount for consulting expenses and get e-mail access to the ASCi consulting team, lead by Charles Lockwood, J.D., LL.M. and John Griffin, J.D., LL.M. Sign up for Silver Consulting Service today here. ASCi Consulting Services In addition to having access to ERISA experts to answer your technical questions, ASCi can also assist with a wide range of other consulting services. Whether you are a third party administrator, attorney, accountant, broker, actuary, plan sponsor, bank employee, or any other retirement plan professional – you can benefit from ASCi’s consulting services. Led by industry experts John Griffin and Charles Lockwood, ASCi’s consulting services encompass all areas of ERISA and the qualified-plan tax rules, including:
  • Plan design consulting
  • Telephone and e-mail technical assistance
  • Plan compliance reviews
  • Utilization of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Department of Labor (DOL) correction programs
  • And other unique consulting needs your firm may have
  • We have considerable experience dealing with the IRS and DOL on voluntary compliance requests, including non-amender applications, VCP submissions, and submissions under the DOL’s Delinquent Filer Voluntary Compliance (DFVC) program. For a reasonable fee, ASCi can assist with voluntary compliance submissions and/or negotiations with the IRS or DOL. ASCi can also assist in preparing for IRS/DOL audits or analyzing plan design options.
You do not have to face this complicated area on your own. We at ASCi can help you solve the unique problems that face practitioners in the qualified plan area. If you would like to receive more information regarding ASCi Silver Consulting or for more information regarding the ASCi consulting services, you can contact us at 800-950-2082 or email asci@asc-net.com.