AE journey: Deciding on a solution

iStock_baona_jigsaw
19

After getting ready for client communications back in November our anonymous accountant got distracted with Christmas and the January SA rush so put AE comms on the back burner.

It’s still on his to-do list going forward this month; however, during this time he did make a decision on which AE solution to go with.

In the latest article in AccountingWEB's ‘AE journey’ content series, our accountant runs through the selection process and how he found a solution.

For running the administration side of auto enrolment, he said is going to be using BrightPay.

He explained how he came to the decision:

“I’ve been following them on Twitter and they’ve been doing a lot of posting about auto enrolment. I wasn’t really happy with the two payroll systems I use at the moment. I use Xero in some cases because I wanted to see what that was like, and I also use MyPAYE.

“At the moment I don’t really have enough faith in Xero’s payroll to go down that route and hope it works for AE. With MyPAYE, I think it’s really good but everything feels a bit all over the place. With BrightPay it is one piece of software, all your companies in one place. They’ve made a big deal they’re AE-ready,” he said.

The accountant said how easy it was to pass payroll information in BrightPay on to your pension provider and how it takes care of a lot of the administration work for you.

“It checks the auto enrolment dates, it checks if people are eligible to opt in, and helps you produce the letters so it takes care of all the admin basically, which is what I’m looking for.”

When it comes to price, BrightPay is a desktop software model, not Software as a Service, so it’s a case of buying a standard licence for the year.

“I think it’s £199 for a bureau - that’s unlimited employers and employees. Whereas when you’re looking at some of the solutions are charging £50-60 SaaS for AE it kind of made sense really,” he added. “I’ve not started using it yet and won’t until April, and a lot of my clients won’t be staging until 2017, but I want to start communicating with them.”

The accountant was also keen on the pre-assessment tool. “You load all your clients on, load their staff on and start running their payroll, and it takes you through the process of getting them staged, all the letters to send out to them and you can get the ball rolling now.”

Keep a look out for the next instalment in his AE journey.

AccountingWEB has launched the No-one gets left behind campaign to alert as many accountants as possible to the obligations implied by auto enrolment. Read our simple eight-point statement which sets out the auto enrolment facts you need to know.

Robert Lovell
Managing Editor
AccountingWEB.co.uk
Share this content

Replies

Please login or register to join the discussion.

avatar
By NYB
23rd Feb 2016 12:55

BRIGHTPAY
Brightpay is so slick I feel I must be missing something. It does everything. it has taken a lot of stress out of the complexities of AE

Thanks (1)

What doesn't software do...

It doesn't choose a pension scheme

It doesn't set up a pension scheme

It doesn't check to see if the scheme being used is a QWPS

It doesn't decide on a tax relief method

It doesn't check to see if the default investment fund is appropriate for the employees affected/enrolled

It doesn't answer employee questions

It doesn't tell you the best way to use postponement for selected employees

It doesn't supply provider specific employee comms (they are all generic) unless you write them yourself and upload them, assuming the chosen software can actually do that

It doesn't check to see if your PI cover will support you in the AE service that you supply to your clients

...other than that it seems to tick teh other boxes and is a good way to start!

Thanks (4)
avatar
By NYB
23rd Feb 2016 14:05

TWO PARTS FOR AE

[quote=[email protected]]

It doesn't choose a pension scheme

It doesn't set up a pension scheme

It doesn't check to see if the scheme being used is a QWPS

It doesn't decide on a tax relief method

It doesn't check to see if the default investment fund is appropriate for the employees affected/enrolled

It doesn't answer employee questions

It doesn't tell you the best way to use postponement for selected employees

It doesn't supply provider specific employee comms (they are all generic) unless you write them yourself and upload them, assuming the chosen software can actually do that

It doesn't check to see if your PI cover will support you in the AE service that you supply to your clients

...other than that it seems to tick teh other boxes and is a good way to start!

[/quote

I didn't make myself clear. In my mind AE falls into two parts. The bullet points you listed and the operating thereof which is where I was coming from. Hence I have outsourced your points as I don't want the ultimate responsibility. This has worked well with many of our clients. Oh and as an add on, dealing over the past year with a higher up person on AE & TPR there is now a school of thought that ALL employers must update the job contracts to include AE. They believe further down the line the misselling of AE could be the replacement for PPI claims. Don't shoot me. Just what I have heard

Thanks (1)

The next great mobile phone scandal....

NYB....No shooting necessary.

I know lawyers that are already sharpening their pencils ready for that day.

They are looking at non-regulated people who "!recommend" schemes and they are looking at the tax relief method which has been provided by that scheme/recommendation. 

My list was not meant as a criticism of your comment by the way.I have now been working with a number of the payroll software developers for nearly two years and assessment within payroll where possible works well. But as you point out, quite correctly there is sooooo much more to AE than number crunching. Glad your partnership is working out and your clients are benefiting from your "stick to what my PI covers me for" approach. Many other clients will not be so lucky as to have an enlightened proposition such as yours!  

Thanks (0)
24th Feb 2016 12:02

@SteveB - scaremongering

...in the hope of winning (more) work from accountants.

 

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Kazmc
24th Feb 2016 12:17

@Kent Accountant

Kent accountant wrote:

...in the hope of winning (more) work from accountants.

 

I don't happen to think SteveB is scaremongering, there is an awful lot more work to AE than at payroll level, and as a bureau in an accountants it is our choice whether we use middleware or not (which we have chosen not to do) and after staging 14 companies in the last 2 months there is definitely enough work to go around everyone!

Thanks (1)

Its only scaremongering if its not true...

Feel free to give your PI insurer a call and ask if you will be covered when selecting pension schemes for your clients?

The activity is unregulated when advising employers so no breaches here and anyone can do it. But if it goes wrong for some reason will your PI insurer step in and pick up the tab for it......

It would be good to hear form a lawyer on their view as well if one if reading these threads??

Thanks (0)
avatar
24th Feb 2016 14:16

Advertising on Aweb

<a href="mailto:[email protected]">[email protected]</a> wrote:

It would be good to hear form a lawyer on their view as well if one if reading these threads??

"I know lawyers that are already sharpening their pencils ready for that day", is what you mentioned before. Are the additional legal viewpoints you want now for our purpose or yours?

Accountants weigh up risks every day, particularly if we're regulated, I think the simple truth may be that we either already have a plan in place that protects us, or we just don't consider the risk particularly significant.

Thanks (1)
avatar
26th Feb 2016 09:43

Agree Entirely

<a href="mailto:[email protected]">[email protected]</a> wrote:

Feel free to give your PI insurer a call and ask if you will be covered when selecting pension schemes for your clients?

The activity is unregulated when advising employers so no breaches here and anyone can do it. But if it goes wrong for some reason will your PI insurer step in and pick up the tab for it......

It would be good to hear form a lawyer on their view as well if one if reading these threads??

I've been around long enough to know that entrusting money to a third party (insurance company, fund manager or whatever you'd like to call them) is equivalent to putting your money into a black hole. The Government have decreed that it will be illegal not to put your money into the said black hole. Forget about the tax relief advantages - if you had your money in Equitable Life that wouldn't have helped.

Luckily I only have two clients who need to auto-enrol (others will be opted out) and they have been /will be referred to an IFA. I don't believe my insurer would be interested in the event of a claim simply because I pay a minimal premium (£365) on the basis that I do no regulated work. To my simple mind, recommending a scheme provider would fall under financial services.

 

 

Thanks (0)
24th Feb 2016 14:37

Selecting pension schemes?

Why would I want to do that?

Its up to the client to select a scheme, I may direct them to a number of providers they may wish to consider and sources of additional information (such as speak to an IFA)

Like the vast majority of sole practitioners (most of the contributors on this forum) I have very few clients where there are more than 1-2 employees, most are director only and will opt out.

One client with more than 10 employees is using an IFA to deal with auto enrolment for them.

Others will be directed to sources of information to assist THEM in deciding which pension scheme to select.

AE isn't a big deal for me, its mostly a number crunching/administration exercise. Am I losing any sleep/worrying about PI claims...?

No.

zzzzzzz

Thanks (1)

Fair enough...

I assume that any anecdotal evidence I supply will be treated as biased for whatever reason.....therefore I felt it appropriate to suggest a third party who is perceived as independent as that might be more useful to those readers who are sceptical. 

It will make no difference to me as we already have had feedback in open forum at countless CIPP events over the last 18 mths or more.

It is also interesting that in this thread there are already accountants who either agree with my view or accept that there is more to AE than software and number crunching (as important as this function is to that part of the AE process).

My thinking is that by sharing my experience of the last couple of years working in AE and staging a couple of hundred clients would add some value and trigger one or two to look into the way they deal with things themselves. Few will use our proposition off of the back of this so there is little self interest in my comments even though again there is the perception that I am fishing for work on these threads.

Happy to share with those who want to benefit form what we have learnt...happy to learn form those who can tell me something I had not considered or not encountered either way I dont see I have anything to lose by sharing. 

 

Thanks (1)
avatar
By Biznus
24th Feb 2016 21:05

Is Brightpay the answer, we no longer think so
Last year we thought Brightpay was the answer to our prays but alias after a year we will not be continuing on. Their AE management tools I admit are strong compared to others, but not without its restrictions that does not suit some circumstances. But for us it is the annoyance of the restrictions within the payroll processing side, in the end we realised we could not transfer across any more clients than the 4 we started with. Brightpay looks good, it's modern and has clearly a good marketing team, but I guess our clients needs are too diverse for Brightpays capabilities.

Thanks (1)
avatar
By kate11
02nd Mar 2016 10:26

Brightpay

Hi Biznus, we are considering BrighPay, can you give me some examples of the limitations? I know they are introducing a lot more features to 16/17, so might be worth you looking at these perhaps?

Thanks (0)
avatar
By Alex_T
25th Feb 2016 12:25

So far so good!

I've been using BrightPay for a few months now and so far it has exceeded my expectation. Fingers crossed that continues to be the case.

Very relieved to have the payroll part of AE sorted. Still work to be done on everything else.

Thanks (3)

Comments from MyPAYE

Since the 'anonymous accountant' mentioned MyPAYE, I'd like to mention a few updates at MyPAYE that may amend your views.

MyPAYE already automates a lot of the administrative tasks involved in staging for Auto Enrolment as well as helping clients to manage their ongoing duties.

We have always provided full Auto Enrolment assessment plus CSV outputs for the major Pension Providers and we have recently released an API interface to Smart Pensions (the first payroll to do so).  

Our NEST API integration will also be released in the next few days.  Both of these APIs are free to use and we will add other free to use APIs as they become available.

Because users say they are struggling to find the time to research the market, we are about to release an integration with a leading virtual adviser (you can probably guess who) to help users select a pension scheme.

We also some other super integrations in our imminent pipeline that will streamline the communications element of auto enrolment and increase the amount of Pension Provider API's we are integrated with.

MyPAYE take client feedback extremely seriously and we always endeavour to provide a solution to a user's pain.

We would welcome any further feedback from the anonymous account or any other members of Accounting Web.

Tim Sheppard

CEO, MyPAYE

Thanks (0)
avatar
29th Feb 2016 11:17

Lack of concern..

Am I alone in finding the blase attitudes shown by some contributors to be worrying?

SteveB is right to raise these issues - just because some people aren't aware of them (or don't realise how serious they can be) doesn't detract from what he says.

There does seem to be a willingness to do as little as possible with regard to AE.

For example, a lot of people are telling their clients to go to NEST without realising that this will have IHT issues later on. Or that there are limits on contributions. And NEST won't present to members.

And as for the issue of tax relief - or lack of it - for lower paid employees - I wonder how many realise that some Master Trusts don't automatically gross up member contributions regardless of whether or not the member actually pays tax - unlike GPPs..

And how many people with Primary / Enhanced and similar Protections will ask why their Adviser didn't tell them that a £5 AE contribution has cost them a 55% tax charge on their pension benefits in excess of the Lifetime Allowance?

Ouch. 

Thanks (2)
avatar
By NYB
29th Feb 2016 13:28

Mis selling

Mike Lacey wrote:

Am I alone in finding the blase attitudes shown by some contributors to be worrying?

SteveB is right to raise these issues - just because some people aren't aware of them (or don't realise how serious they can be) doesn't detract from what he says.

There does seem to be a willingness to do as little as possible with regard to AE.

For example, a lot of people are telling their clients to go to NEST without realising that this will have IHT issues later on. Or that there are limits on contributions. And NEST won't present to members.

And as for the issue of tax relief - or lack of it - for lower paid employees - I wonder how many realise that some Master Trusts don't automatically gross up member contributions regardless of whether or not the member actually pays tax - unlike GPPs..

And how many people with Primary / Enhanced and similar Protections will ask why their Adviser didn't tell them that a £5 AE contribution has cost them a 55% tax charge on their pension benefits in excess of the Lifetime Allowance?

Ouch. 

This is why its potentially the next big mis selling thing now PPI is coming to having been flogged to death.

This is why I have used someone who a) has more knowledge than me & b) Can take the flack when there is a problem.

I don't want the responsibility. Don't mind as a bureau operating AE through the payroll but don't wan to be responsible for more

Thanks (1)
avatar
By NYB
02nd Mar 2016 11:07

Brightpay

Have used Brightpay for many years. Have not found any limitations but I know there has been comment on lack of CIS provision. However this is to be rectified.

16/17 is to introduce:

CIS Contractors module

P11d's

Extra pension for AE - True Potential, Smart Pension and Careys.

There is a Cloud feature costs(£49+VAT per ). Essentially an employee App where an employee can access their own payslips, request leave, see their P60's etc.

Their AE NEST module means Schedules can be sent over direct to NEST (like an RTI submission) without having to prepare a CSV file and upload through NEST. Works like a dream.

 

Thanks (3)
avatar
By kate11
02nd Mar 2016 11:37

I have heard about the many features being introduced for 16/17, and from my trials it does look a good package.

My only concern with the new portal where we will be able to publish payslips, P60s (assuming the AE comms also), is the leave request as we are a bureau and  such won't play the part of an employer to authorise leave. Not sure how that will work yet.

I think BrightPay are a growing company, and one that does actually listen to it's customers though - that in itself is such a breath of fresh air!

 

 

Thanks (2)