Categories: Membership Meeting

NOARK is recognized by SHRM to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for the SHRM-CP® or SHRM-SCP®. This program is valid for 4.00 PDCs for the SHRM-CP℠ or SHRM-SCP℠. For more information about certification or recertification, please visit shrmcertification.org.

This event is approved for HRCI credits

This Program has been approved for 4.00 HR (General) recertification credit hours toward aPHR™, aPHRi™, PHR®, PHRca®, SPHR®, GPHR®, PHRi™ and SPHRi™ recertification through HR Certification Institute® (HRCI®).

The use of this official seal confirms that this Activity has met HR Certification Institute’s® (HRCI®) criteria for recertification credit pre-approval.

We have assembled a nationally acclaimed team of ERISA experts to help you unlock the current challenges and complexities of today’s benefit plan environment. This seminar provides practical illustrations and an overview of issues and trends currently impacting employee benefit plans while providing useful information to help attendees understand the various compliance requirements in the administration and oversight of employee benefit plans.

Who Should Attend:

Human resource professionals, employee benefit plan administrators and anyone with administrative or fiduciary responsibility for employee benefit plans


8:00 am     Check-in and Networking

8:30 am     10 Things That Could Send You to Jail or Hell 

                   Brandon Long, McAfee & Taft

9:25 am     Cybersecurity for Employee Benefit Plans

                  Cody Griffin, HoganTaylor Technologies

10:10 am     Break

10:20 am   Changes are Coming to Your Employee Benefit Plan Audit

                  Gwen Stoute, HoganTaylor LLP

10:35 am    Rewarding Retirement: Focus of the Fiduciary

                   Chris Thixton, Pension Consultants Inc.

11:30 am     Lunch / NOARK Member Update

12:00 pm    Panel Session and Q&A

                   Moderator – Alison Wynn, HoganTaylor LLP

                   Brandon Long, McAfee & Taft

                   Cody Griffin, HoganTaylor Technologies

                   Gwen Stoute, HoganTaylor LLP

                   Chris Thixton, Pension Consultants Inc.

12:50 pm    Closing


  • Recognize current bad ideas and/or bad practices that could create problems for 401(k) plans and their fiduciaries
  • Identify alternative best practices for plan fiduciaries that are more prudent than some of the current bad ideas and/or practices
  • Discuss Department of Labor Cybersecurity best practices
  • Discern the Plan Administrator and Management's responsibilities in relation to the new standards which prescribe certain new performance requirements
  • Interpret the role of the fiduciary committee
  • Recognize and measure key drivers of retirement readiness

Gwen Stoute, Partner HoganTaylor LLP

Gwen serves as the leader of HoganTaylor’s Employee Benefit Plan practice, one of the largest in the Oklahoma/Arkansas region. HoganTaylor's EBP practice provides audit services to approximately 200 defined contribution and benefit plans, including 401(k), 11-K, 403(b), ESOP, and health and welfare plans, and also prepares approximately 500 Form 5500 returns annually.

Gwen has 20 years of experience in public accounting, specializing in audits of employee benefit plans. She is experienced in working with various retirement plans of all sizes.

Gwen is a 1997 Summa Cum Laude graduate of the University of Arkansas (B.S.B.A. degree in Accounting). Gwen is a presenter at various conferences, including the AICPA National Conference on Employee Benefit Plans. Gwen is a member of the AICPA and the Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma Societies of Certified Public Accountants.  Gwen also serves on the AICPA’s Employee Benefit Plan Audit Quality Center’s Executive Committee.


Chris Thixton, QPA, QKC, C(k)P®, Principal Pension Consultants, Inc.

Since starting with Pension Consultants, Inc. (PCI) in 1995, Chris Thixton has been a tireless advocate for 401(k) and 403(b) plans to provide results in the key drivers of retirement readiness to improve the financial security of American workers.

Chris consistently educates and trains fiduciary committees on how to deliver a top-performing retirement plan. He speaks several times every year as a subject matter expert at various conferences and programs emphasizing fundamental concepts and practical approaches facing plan fiduciaries.

Chris created, developed, and implemented a wide variety of systems that have improved clients’ retirement plans. He pioneered PCI’s vendor research system, including service-provider comparative analysis and benchmarking. Chris also created QP Review®, the predecessor to PCI’s proprietary compliance service for clients.

Chris testified in Washington D.C. at the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefit Security Administration on fiduciary matters related to fee disclosure as part of the Hearing on Reasonable Contracts or Arrangements under Section 408(b)(2).

As a member of the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries, Chris is a Qualified Pension Administrator and Qualified 401(k) Consultant. Chris is a Certified 401(k) Professional in good standing with The Retirement Advisor University in collaboration with UCLA Anderson School of Management Executive Education.



Cody Griffin, CPA, CITP, CISA, Partner HoganTaylor LLP

Cody Griffin is a CPA, CITP and CISA with more than 15 years of experience in both public and private industry and a partner in the Risk Assurance and Information Technology Advisory Services practices. He began his career in the risk assurance and advisory practice of PricewaterhouseCoopers. Cody’s industry experience includes information technology, cybersecurity, telecommunications, retail, financial institutions, energy, higher education and transportation. His areas of practice include Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Section 404, IT audit, business process reviews, System and Organization Control (SOC) 1, SOC 2 and SOC 3 reports, SOC for Cybersecurity reports, fraud reviews, agreed-upon procedures, internal audit assurance services, investment funds and compliance audits.

Brandon Long, Shareholder, Practice Group Leader McAfee & Taft

Brandon Long is an experienced, AV Preeminent-rated employee benefits attorney and the leader of the Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation Group at McAfee & Taft, which is one of the largest and most experienced of its kind in the region.  He represents regional and national clients with thousands of employees, including large publicly traded corporations and governmental entities. Brandon is a frequent author and speaker on employee benefits topics nationwide and has played key advisory and leadership roles in a number of leading industry organizations, including the SouthWest Benefits Association (past president).  More than 25 years ago, Brandon started in the mail room of another large Oklahoma City firm, worked as a legal assistant while going to law school at night, and graduated ranked first in his law school class. Brandon then practiced with large national and international law firms in Dallas and Washington, D.C. before returning to his hometown and joining McAfee & Taft. He holds a master of laws in taxation from the Villanova University School of Law.


The Barn at the Springs
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