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  • Writer's pictureSamantha Diggs

What is the QKA Designation?

Updated: Mar 11, 2022


As in any industry, retirement plan administration is full of professionals who hold various credentials, designed to distinguish them from the sea of competition. It is important for Plan Sponsors and Advisors to understand these designations so they can choose the best fit for the retirement plans they service. When searching for a Third Party Administrator to service a retirement plan, one should focus on firms who employ professionals with the Qualified 401(k) Administrator (QKA) designation. Let’s dig into this designation and how working with a QKA will have a positive impact on your retirement plan experience.



What does it take to become a QKA certified professional? To obtain this designation from the American Society of Pension Professionals (ASPPA), Administrators undergo a complex education program focused on Plan Design, Management, Testing, and Compliance, which are concluded with proctored final exams. The education does not end there, however, all members must obtain 40 hours of continuing education credits, including two ethics credits, every two years to maintain their designation and remain current with changes in regulations and laws. This designation signifies that the plan professionals are experts in their field and embody the QKA motto “work smarter” using the best, and most practical, tools to accomplish the necessary tasks.


QKA-certified professionals go by many titles such as ERISA Consultant, administrator client service manager, relationship manager, account manager, compliance specialist, or plan administrator. No matter the title, they all share the same role which is to interact daily with the technical aspects of 401(k) plans and support the needs of the Plan Sponsor, plan participants, financial advisors, and the retirement plan in general.



Working with a QKA provides peace of mind for Plan Sponsors. The designation ensures that your plan administrator has perfected the technical skills needed to work with 401(k) plans and is fluent in administrative issues such as basic plan qualification requirements, contributions, allocations, vesting, forfeiture issues, plan amendments, terminations, ADP/ACP tests, other non-discrimination testing, distributions, and so much more.


It may take some extra time and research to find a retirement plan firm that employs QKAs and will assign a dedicated administrator to your plan. However, that time upfront is well spent. Using a QKA is the first important step in protecting the retirement plan from time-consuming or expensive mistakes made by a retirement plan professional who is not a certified expert. With a commitment to working smarter and remaining an industry expert, a QKA-certified professional is a person you want to handle the needs of your retirement plan.


Do you still have questions? Let us know below! We would be happy to discuss the QKA with you in greater detail.





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