Ascend is the industry’s most comprehensive education conference providing training, certification, and continuing education to financial professionals for over 30 years. Strengthen your competitive advantage with certified expertise, industry insights, and networking.

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Course Overview

2021 IRA Reporting - Get It Right the First Time!Join us for an overview of IRA reporting requirements, including what’s new for tax year 2021. Learn what information financial organizations must report to IRA owners and to the IRS on IRS Forms 5498 and 1099-R, and the fair market value and required minimum distribution (RMD) statements.
403(b) and 457(b) Plans: Beyond the FundamentalsJoin us for an in-depth discussion on certain 403(b) and 457(b) plan topics. During this course we will have a robust discussion on common issues and plan features that affect plan administrators, investment providers, and employers. This course will go beyond a basic, fundamental discussion of the rules and will focus on some of the more challenging scenarios facing the retirement industry.
Advanced Beneficiary Topics for IRAs and QRPsIRA and QRP beneficiary regulations can seem complicated, especially when other circumstances apply. We’ll provide specific types of situations or issues that may come up when processing a death claim, along with information on how to handle them and examples of how the beneficiaries are affected.
Advanced IRA and QRP PortabilityIn this session you’ll learn about all of the IRA and employer-sponsored retirement plan portability options and the requirements for properly carrying them out. You’ll also gain an understanding of the rules and learn the differences between each transaction. We’ll discuss taxation, eligible plan types, reporting, divorce, and what’s new.
Advanced QRP Distribution IssuesParticipants have many questions when it comes to taking distributions from their retirement plans. This course will focus on the various ways that plan participants can distribute their plan assets. Topics covered include in-service distributions, plan loans, and defaulted loans.
Beneficiary Options As A Result of the SECURE ActThe SECURE Act brought many changes, and one of those changes was to beneficiary options. This course will walk through the possible distribution options for both IRA and qualified retirement plan beneficiaries when the account owner dies in 2020 or later.
CHSP Exam Prep WorkshopTaking the Certified Health Savings Professional (CHSP) exam? This optional workshop will review health savings account (HSA) topics and prepare you for the CHSP test. We’ll work through activities and case studies together to assess your knowledge and to practice for the exam.
CIS II Exam Prep Workshop
Taking the CIS II exam? This optional workshop will review IRA topics and prepare you for the test. We’ll work through activities and case studies together to assess your knowledge and to practice for the exam.
Exploring Penalty-Free IRA Distributions
Learn how IRA owners can take penalty-free distributions before age 59½. This course will cover each exception to the 10 percent early distribution penalty tax—including substantially equal periodic payments, first-time home purchases, higher education expenses, disaster relief, and qualified birth or adoption expenses.
Financial Organization Mergers and Acquisitions
Understanding how IRA programs are affected by a financial organization merger or acquisition—and how to prepare—can save organizations from compliance failures, hefty IRS penalties, and potential lawsuits. We’ll share things to consider when going through a merger or acquisition; suggest best practices, and highlight the ways that Ascensus can help.
Finding Answers to Commonly Asked IRA Questions
We’ll review common frontline IRA questions and show you how to find the correct answers. Leave this course equipped with useful resources and valuable tools to confidently answer questions from IRA clients or resolve IRA issues.
Handling IRA Excess Contributions
This course will walk you through everything IRA excess contribution-related, including the reasons why an excess may occur. Learn how an excess can be corrected, depending on when it is being corrected, how to determine the excess amount plus interest, and how to accurately report the transaction.
HSA Basics
Build a foundation of health savings account (HSA) knowledge with a thorough introduction into the world of HSAs, beginning with eligibility requirements and moving on to contribution rules and limits, and finally, taking distributions. The course includes an overview of the HSA’s relationship to employer high deductible health plans.
HSA Certification Workshop
Participate in this comprehensive HSA curriculum and leave with a more thorough knowledge of health savings accounts (HSAs). We’ll expand on basic HSA topics with more detail and information, giving you a practical understanding of critical rules and operational issues. Gain the education and confidence you need to help pass the Certified Health Savings Professional (CHSP) exam.
HSAs - Beyond the Basics
Expand your HSA knowledge with this discussion of more advanced topics related to eligibility, contributions, and distributions, including beneficiary rules, excess contributions, prohibited transactions, and debit card issues. Receive clarification on what an HSA trustee or custodian’s responsibilities are versus an HSA owner’s responsibilities.
Identifying and Addressing IRA Compliance Issues
When it comes to IRA compliance, don’t neglect the big three: documents, withholding, and reporting. Find out how to consistently maintain compliance in each of these areas—and be ready for a potential IRS audit. We’ll share common IRA errors—and how much they can cost—along with ways to fix them.
IRA Documents - What Are The Options?
Learn the how, why, and when of IRA documents! In this session we'll discuss what is required to be included in an IRA document and what you can change within a document. We'll also review the differences in the types, such as model agreements and prototypes documents, as well as why a prototype document would be used. Join us to find out these rules and the latest guidance on the required amendment.
IRA Fundamentals
Jump-start your IRA knowledge with this course on Traditional and Roth IRAs. We’ll cover all the basics, from contribution eligibility and limits, distribution phases and penalty exceptions, to transfers and rollovers, including rollovers between employer-sponsored retirement plans and IRAs
IRA Investments - Beyond CDs
With the increasing popularity of self-directed IRAs, getting a handle on an array of different investment opportunities is a must.  Examine the different types of alternative investments available to IRAs such as hedge funds, real estate, oil, gas, and mineral rights, precious metals, limited liability companies, loans and notes, and stocks not traded on an established market.  And find out more about the additional responsibilities that are associated with holding such investments in IRAs for both the IRA trustee/custodian and the IRA owner. 
IRA Legal Issues
Your organization may have legal counsel or written guidelines in place to ensure the proper handling of various legal issues that typically relate to IRAs. Become more familiar with these issues—and any related law changes—while learning practical approaches to handling them to better serve your IRA clients.
IRA Update
Don't fall behind on the latest IRA-related regulatory changes and legislative developments. Find out what’s new and how it may affect your IRA program, documents, and procedures. Topics covered may include recent legislation, reporting guidance, and key pronouncements.
IRAdirect® Death Claims Process
This session will provide attendees with the basic steps in processing a death claim after an IRA owner’s death. This session includes tips in completing the Death Notice form to help speed up the death claim process. We will also review the different disbursal authorization letters that your financial organization might receive.
Legislative Reform: What You Need To Know
Get the scoop on any new legislation and policy initiatives, taking into consideration the current or future political climate.
Maximizing Your HSA Business Opportunities
Whether your organization is already in the HSA market or on the verge of entering, discover what it takes to run a successful HSA program. Learn why the HSA is a valuable product, how to keep your HSA program in compliance, where opportunities may exist to grow your HSA business, and what HSA issues your organization may encounter.
Missing Participants
As long as there have been retirement plans, employers have had to deal with the issue of missing participants. Guidelines for steps to locate missing participants can be challenging, but we’ll share best practices for developing and documenting procedures to assist you in meeting your fiduciary obligations.
Navigating SEP Plans
Simplified employee pension (SEP) plans remain a popular alternative for small employers. SEP plans are easy to maintain and offer employers a chance to make deductible contributions at their discretion. This course provides an in-depth review of SEP plans, including information on plan documents, eligibility requirements, contribution limits, and distribution requirements.
Portability Special Issues and Conversions
In this session you’ll learn all about rollover and transfer special issues—including special IRA repayment provisions. You’ll gain an understanding of conversions and employer plan rollovers to Roth IRAs. We’ll discuss taxation, ineligible conversions, and reporting requirements.
QRP FundamentalsThis course examines the world of qualified retirement plans. We'll explore the benefits of these plans by describing plan features such as eligibility, contributions, and portability. A portion of this course will also cover plan design issues, testing requirements, and Roth features.
QRP Legal Issues
Most employers don’t want to be burdened by the details of plan administration. Yet those details cannot be ignored. This course addresses the legal and compliance issues that apply to employer-sponsored retirement plans. Leave with a better understanding of the topics discussed and, if time permits, the instructor may be able to address your questions about complex legal issues your clients have.
QRP Update
Join us for the latest analysis of the SECURE and CARES Acts and their continued effects on qualified retirement plans. In addition, we’ll cover other legislative updates, regulatory changes, and judicial decisions that have taken effect. Find out whether these changes will affect your documents and procedures.
Required Minimum Distributions for IRAs and QRPs
This course focuses solely on required minimum distributions (RMDs) from IRAs and employer-sponsored retirement plans. We’ll explain the required beginning date and why it may differ between IRAs and retirement plans, how to correctly calculate an RMD, the role beneficiaries play in the calculation, what the reporting requirements are, and other RMD-related topics..
Retirement Challenges for the Gig Economy
During this general session, we’ll discuss how to attract new types of savers—those who work in a nontraditional setting without access to an employer plan. For example, we’ll explain how to reach out to self-motivated entrepreneurs, such as those who work with Uber or as freelancers. We’ll also describe how IRAs, HSAs, SEP plans, and Individual(k) plans can help these individuals save for their future retirement and health-related expenses.
Social Security - What You Need to Know
Where does Social Security fit with other retirement plans? How does it work? Social Security alone cannot be relied on to fund retirement. This course will give a current summary of Social Security and its rules. The course will also explain what to do and what not to do when coordinating Social Security benefits with other retirement assets.
Solo(k) Plans - Another Option for the Small Business Owner
A major change in today’s American economy is the growing importance of owner-only businesses. This includes new start-ups, niche businesses, independent professionals, and so-called “gig” workers. The one-person or owner-only 401(k)—sometimes called a Solo(k) plan—offers features that allow total contribution flexibility, the ability to make maximum contributions with less compensation than needed with other plan types, and modest administration cost. Attend this course to learn more.
The RMD Process of IRAdirect®
Learn the timeline for establishing and processing Traditional IRA required minimum distributions (RMDs), from completing the Post 70½ Periodic Payment form and various distribution reports, to modifying payments using the Traditional IRA Periodic Payment Change form.
Train the Trainer
Tasked with training others at your organization on IRAs? Our instructors will help you take the IRA knowledge you’ve just acquired and pair it with the best practices in training. They’ll talk about delivery methods, training challenges—and how to overcome them—and ideas for training modules
Understanding IRA and QRP Prohibited Transactions
Examine the prohibited transaction rules, and the various pieces of guidance for those rules as they apply to IRAs and QRPs. Gain a better understanding of how to identify and prevent common prohibited transactions. Also recognize when unrelated business taxable income may apply.
What to Do When an Account Owner Dies
Regardless of who handles beneficiary assets when an account owner dies, there are certain steps that should be taken when a death certificate of an account owner is received by your financial organization. We will also explore related concepts such as separate accounting, portability options, and default beneficiaries. Return to work with a clearer understanding of beneficiary procedures
Why a Roth IRA?
Learn all aspects of the Roth IRA— including its features and benefits and how it stands out from other retirement savings accounts. Leave with a more thorough understanding of its tax advantages, contribution eligibility rules, reporting requirements, portability options, and advanced distribution issues.
Withholding Requirements for IRAs
There is much confusion about fulfilling IRA withholding requirements. Don’t be caught off guard with numerous errors and costly penalties. Learn the federal and state IRA withholding requirements and how to satisfy them, the proper way to submit withheld assets, and what the potential penalties are for not withholding correctly.

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