Directing Retirement Plans Part 1

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Required to Earn



Part of

RPA Designation

RPA 1 is being extensively revised. New course materials will be available in the second quarter and be tested on starting July 15, 2024. The following course information applies until the June 15, 2024 testing window deadline. 

This course initiates a discussion of the strategic importance of retirement plan design in addressing an organization’s need to systematically replenish its workforce, as well as in competitively rewarding its talent. The course provides context for understanding retirement plan design by outlining the defined contribution and defined benefit structures afforded preferential tax treatment as qualified plans. While providing a comprehensive overview of these structures, the course looks at which employer situations warrant use of various plan types and the compliance and operational issues that accompany use of these plans. In addition to commonly known plan types such as 401(k)s and profit-sharing plans, other specialty types of plans are introduced that are relevant for rewarding executive talent, nonprofit employees and governmental workers. Key plan issues such as fee transparency, legal risks and encouraging plan participation are also addressed.

Topics Covered:

  • Designing Registered Pension Plans
  • Private Retirement Plans: Background and Context
  • Defined Contribution and Defined Benefit Structures
  • Alternate Defined Benefit Approaches
  • Overview of Defined Contribution Plan Structures
  • Profit-Sharing and Money Purchase Pension Plans
  • Foundations of 401(k) Plans
  • Defined Contribution Practice Issues
  • Special Purpose Plan Use: 403(b)s/457 Plans/ESOPs
  • Small Employer Retirement Plan Alternatives
  • Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs): Various Types and Multiple Uses
  • Executive Retirement Arrangements
  • Stock Compensation Plans

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Resources For RPA 1


Successful completion of comprehensive exam    


RPA 1 Study Guide, 2nd Edition, including online access to the modules and practice exam

* Readings Updates


Retirement Plans, 12th Edition
Allen, Melone, Rosenbloom and Mahoney, editors,
McGraw-Hill, 2017.
ISBN 978-1-259-72067-3
(Note: This text is also used in RPA 2.)


Online Study Group With Instructor Support
12-week sessions offered in spring, summer and fall


Success Package - Save 20%

Save 20% when you purchase the textbook, Study Guide, Online Study Group and RPA 1 exam