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Auto-Enrolment

Auto-Enrolment

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We're starting to think about the question of where we fit in with Auto Enrolment as Accountants and I'm really interested to hear what other firms are thinking.

Having done a bit of research, the main service that I think we would provide would be adding on to the payroll service and providing reports to the potential pension provider on employee's eligibility etc. 

Potentially we could communicate with employees ourselves and get their responses for opting in or out but this sounds like it would be a huge admin burden on the payroll department.

We also need to make a decision on software upgrades which involves the usual suspects, Sage, Iris, Star etc. Does anyone have any strong feelings on which payroll software provider has the best offering for Auto Enrolment? 

The good news is that our client base is mainly SMEs which means the staging dates are pretty far off for now. However, I feel we need to be able to make a decision on our service offering pretty soon so we're clear on what our message is to clients.

There's a fine line with not being FCA regulated and discussing this type of thing with clients which I think we also need to be careful about.

Finally, is it all worth it? Should we just steer clear and let the IFAs do their thing or is it our duty as our client's advisor to let them know about their obligations?

We want to seize the opportunity to do more for our clients but don't want to over-estimate the opportunity and spend too much time on it with not much impact on the bottom line.

Replies (198)

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By [email protected]
24th Sep 2014 17:52

Auto enrolment

I attended a NEST event recently. It also had participants from the Pensions Regulator.

The event was aimed primarily at bureau providers.

One message that was very clear from the event is that accountancy firms who provide payroll bureau services really have no option but to get involved in auto enrolment.

Their clients, particularly SMEs, will be very much dependent on their independent advice.

The way it was put is that firms can either seize the opportunity or their clients will go elsewhere.

The way I see it is that, if you have payroll bureau clients, it is impossible to separate the two. Like RTI, auto enrolment will be an integral part of the payroll process.

As to advising clients on which pension scheme to adopt, this is a tricky one but I think you are allowed to point out facts e.g. NEST has no option but to accept all employers and employees, it is government backed etc. (I am not necessarily advocating NEST here. I am just unsure about the USPs of the other schemes).

It is an opportunity for accountants as it is an additional value added service that you will be providing for your clients and you will need to charge accordingly. One accountant told me that they were increasing their bureau charges from £1 per payslip to £1.50 after each client stages and that they were charging a one off fee for handling the staging.

Staging is the main hurdle and your payroll software should be able to handle the various communications. After staging, it initially just comes down to handling opt outs and then monitoring.

I have been away from practice for some time now (having gone into the payroll software game) so I have no idea what the general uplift in bureau charges will be.

Kind regards

 

Paul Byrne fca
BrightPay

 

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By Moonbeam
24th Sep 2014 18:32

What bits you can handle

I agree that anyone running a payroll will be expected to cope with auto-enrolment in some way or other - after all the calculations of contributions are based on payroll figures.

1. Up to 31/3/15 I would only recommend Iris as the one stop shop for payroll and all the auto enrolment bells and whistles. After that there will be a lot more players in the market place, but many of them are rather shy about coming forward. Iris charges at the top end of the market, which is probably one reason why their offering looks so superior to anything else I've seen.

At present eg Moneysoft offers the calculation facilities but not the letter sending stuff, which you should probably be offering as part of the service. Although eg the PeoplesPension website can be set up to send the letters for you, it's much faster if you can use the payroll to do this.

Eventually Sage's payroll add on for Auto enrolment may be adjusted to take out the awful bugs, together with instructions on how to find and use the various elements. At present they don't deserve any recommendation from me. They have wasted hours and hours of my time, and caused me sleepless nights and I can't forgive them for that.

I charge my 30 person client £28 a month for just the cost of the Sage autoenrolment module. Then there are numerous supplementary charges based on sending letters, posting contributions and other adjustments to the pension provider's website.

For the accounts side of things there will be a monthly reconciliation to what's been deducted versus what's been paid to the provider less any refunds of opted out payments expected. You might offer to do that as well - for a fee.

I know you say you want to make a decision soon about the payroll software. It's just that there are so many software providers keeping their heads down at present. If you can leave it well into July/August 2015 you will have a much better selection to choose from.

2. Stay well clear of interfacing with the employees. They will drive you over the edge however much you feel you can charge. You will probably have to train up the employer/office manager instead so make sure you charge for this.

3. I feel we will all need to get lined up with an FCA to pass the client on to a regulated person. My problem is I don't know/trust anyone in this area, and I am always reluctant to recommend people I don't know. I assume that there won't be much choice for most low paid people apart from Nest/ Peoples pension and the other one whose name escapes me.

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By [email protected]
25th Sep 2014 12:25

Engagement

AE is coming to the payslips of every employee and so will impact on anyone who is involved in payroll to a lesser or greater degree over the next few years. 

Payroll can either ignore it, and I think that this will end up costing them money and losing them clients or payroll can engage and provide a solution for their clients which will make their won processes more efficient and will cost them less. 
That engagement can be a simple as introduce all my clients to my local AE specialist IFA in advance of their staging date and let them run the project and tell me when they need input from payroll or it can be about developing a service which adds value to the client and will be profitable. It can also be a strategy which attracts more clients and means an opportunity charge for additional services on top. 

Did I not hear at one of the recent money marketing events that a payroll provider who ignores payroll can add an additional 50 hrs per year onto each payroll they run in terms of processing time?....however one with a solution will only add 4 hrs per year to each payroll processing time. That is a big difference. 

Head in the sand by employers, advisers or indeed payroll will result in additional work which costs money that no-one was prepared for. This additional cost will sit somewhere and I wonder where employers will want it to sit? 
Nobody does anything for nothing as a business as we all have employees to pay ourselves, but by careful planning and thought, payroll/advisers can minimise the additional cost to them and their clients and can also add value and improve the customer experience. 
Surely that is worth some thinking time on the part of all involved??

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By Henry Tapper
25th Sep 2014 13:51

Advice on the pension

It's becoming a bit of a saga this one! The official line (FCA and tPR jt statement in March 14) is that advice to employers is unregulated (but advice to employees isn't). To be really helpful, the Regulator's pointed out that where the employee is the employer and vice versa you've got to be careful (don't you love regulators).

The Regulator's warning is that if you haven't got "skill and knowledge" you shouldn't be advising, but your practice's ethics code (and your PI insurer) can tell you that!

For a employer to choose NEST because it's there is risky. No one may have got sacked for choosing IBM but there have been a lot of employees who had to use IBM machines who wished they hadn't!

www.pensionplaypen.com is not the only pension comparison service, they do exist and employers , accountants and IFAs use them to research the market, rate providers and get an audit trail on the decision taken.

As the cost of this kind of search is £500 or less, it seems to be a sensible solution for employers who want to take the right decision n are worried about the consequences of getting it wrong!

 

 

 

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Replying to 2003bluecat:
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By lucy.danon
25th Sep 2014 14:44

DPB

henrytapper wrote:

The Regulator's warning is that if you haven't got "skill and knowledge" you shouldn't be advising, but your practice's ethics code (and your PI insurer) can tell you that!

 

Probably time to read the DPB Manual and see if there's anything in there of note- joy!

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By lucy.danon
25th Sep 2014 14:41

Thanks for the comments, all really useful and interesting.

I think we have to educate ourselves on the subject even if we aren't in a position to give pension advice to clients, they'll expect us to understand the theory of what AE means.

Also seems clear that we need a very specific service offering tied into the payroll. I would expect the potential increase in fees to be a bit higher than mentioned above but doing it per payslip definitely make sense.

Completely agree that doing nothing could lead to clients going elsewhere which we'd want to avoid. 

Also completely agree with Moonbeam on not engaging with the employees - I feel that will create a massive headache for all involved and it doesn't require payroll expertise which is what the client should be paying for.

We've had a local IFA for a few years but he's not interested in AE in the slightest - a business decision for him. It can be so difficult to find someone you like and trust to refer clients to.

Thanks for the comments on Iris Moonbeam - we have a demo with them next week and will probably show our faces at Iris World and their AE seminar. They do seem to have a robust solution and as we're an Iris firm, it would work well from an integration point of view.

Really useful to hear your thoughts and observations, thank you.

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Replying to vtsoftware:
By Philip950
30th Sep 2014 13:23

AE service offering

lucy.danon wrote:

I think we have to educate ourselves on the subject even if we aren't in a position to give pension advice to clients, they'll expect us to understand the theory of what AE means.

Also seems clear that we need a very specific service offering tied into the payroll. I would expect the potential increase in fees to be a bit higher than mentioned above but doing it per payslip definitely make sense.

Completely agree that doing nothing could lead to clients going elsewhere which we'd want to avoid. 

I would agree with your conclusions here Lucy. The expectation of SME clients will be that AE is part of the payroll function and therefore a service offering needs to be considered alongside a payroll service. I would expect the software offering to get better next year so one could argue we can defer that decision till later. As to what to do now, I think you do need to communicate with your clients and hopefully provide words of comfort that you can look after much of their needs. Here's a link to some communication tools that you can use now:

http://www.mercia-group.co.uk/AE/

 

 

 

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By Martin Ralph
25th Sep 2014 16:11

Adding value through auto-enrolment

Hi

This is a really interesting question and one which many accountancy practices and payroll bureau up and down the country are posing and considering.

As we move into the phase of staging smaller employers during 2015 – 2017 the accountancy and payroll firms will start to play a real part in the success (or not) of AE.  These smaller employers are unlikely to have an existing pension arrangement or retain a corporate advisory firm to help them.  If they do turn to an advisory firm, many of these will try to charge them far more than they will wish (or may be able) to pay – the smaller employers may well not have the deep pockets of larger firms which have already reached and passed their staging dates.

But, notwithstanding this, these employers will still need help to get themselves over the AE start line and beyond.  Some will be willing and able to take a more hands-on approach than others, but most will need to get external help to some degree.  There are advisory firms who welcome this type of employer and employers can choose to use firms which provide a greater or lesser service and degree of hand-holding than others – really a case of horses for courses.

So, where do these hundreds of thousands of employers turn to find these firms willing to help and this advice?  Most will, I suspect, call their main professional contact – their accountant. It is therefore vital that accountancy practices have a plan for dealing with these enquiries.  Like the advisory firms, the degree of interest, enthusiasm and willingness (and resources) to get involved in the detailed processes of AE will vary.  Some firms will elect to get involved at the coalface with the detail, others will want to partner or outsource to an AE specialist.  In our experience many firms are seeking to partner with a specialist due to resources, knowledge levels and, as Henry pointed out, the risk of putting forward a pension solution without perhaps having the requisite levels of knowledge and experience.

Regardless of how involved you wish to get, the client-facing partners and staff will need to have a degree of understanding of the process of AE and the firm needs a plan.  

If you provide payroll services then it is even more important that you consider this and have a plan, as the employee assessment and communications are driven from the payroll side of things. You have options open to you here too in terms of how directly involved you get.

For instance, you could upgrade / change your payroll software to ensure that it handles AE assessment and communications (or at least assessment); you could license an employee asessment ‘middleware’ software solution which ‘bolts’ onto the side of your existing payroll software, interfaces with the employee data and undertakes the assessment and communications, record-keeping, etc on your behalf; or you can use the middleware solution of the AE partner that you select, if they have one. The most efficient method is the first one - to use the assessment module of the payroll software, if it has one – but only if the tool works seamlessly!

Whatever you choose to do as a payroll firm, your clients will still need to have reviewed their own situation and selected a pension provider, so you will still need to have a plan for how you deal with this piece for your clients.

In summary, offering some form of help and assistance is a must.  It is a great tool for adding value for your clients and increasing the retention potential,  and structured correctly, adding to your own bottom line too.

Hope this helps - sorry it's a little lengthy, I get rather carried away by the subject!

Martin

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Euan's picture
By Euan MacLennan
25th Sep 2014 17:06

What this thread proves ...

... is that there are no short answers on Auto-Enrolment ;-)

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Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
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By lucy.danon
25th Sep 2014 17:16

@Euan most definitely! 

@Euan most definitely! 

The subject matter is about as interesting as RTI was. 

Lots to consider but it's been great to hear that we're all in the same boat!

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By petersaxton
25th Sep 2014 20:09

Moonbeam

What bugs have you found?

Why didn't you get the Pensions Module rather than the Auto Enrolment Edition?

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By Moonbeam
25th Sep 2014 20:57

Pensions Module is the Auto Enrolment Addon

I have posted lots about how awful the Sage Auto enrolment Addon is. I may have called it the Pensions Module, but there is only one of them.

One day this module will be much better when more unwitting new customers purchase the addon and give Sage the money to pay for more programming time. However other providers will have got up to speed by then with their own offerings. We may have to wait yet another payroll year before things improve dramatically.

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By petersaxton
25th Sep 2014 22:16

There's two

This indicates there's two products

https://shop.sage.co.uk/pensionsmodule.aspx

https://shop.sage.co.uk/autoenrolmentpack.aspx

 

 

 

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By Smartie99
26th Sep 2014 01:38

Setting up costs

I look after around 20 payrolls all of which are small and will not stage until late 2016.  My main concern with some of the smaller employers, for example I have a hairdresser who employs one full-time girl on £300.00 per week, is the cost of setting up the scheme.

I have a very good friend who is a self-employed IFA and he is talking £800.00 ish to set up a scheme and he's suggesting rates like this are almost a favour and he wouldn't be especially chasing work at this level.  This hairdresser, as you might imagine, is by no means wealthy and just about manages to stay under the VAT threshold.  £800 to him is a big chunk.

So if I suggest he looks at NEST to avoid the £800 fee does this constitute advice? I know he won't have the time or inclination to do any research himself, and will look to me for a solution.

I also understand that some of the larger pension Co's won't be interested in small employers like this which will only have < £100 a month paid into them.

How is everyone else thinking of dealing with their very small employers?

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Replying to Rebecca Cave:
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By TerryDee
07th Oct 2015 18:27

Setting up costs

Hi we run an Auto Enrolment set up service that is designed to help small businesses.

Our fees are £395 for a complete set up plus £15.00 per month. Our advisers work remotely (online and via the telephone) so we can keep our costs down.

you can find out more at assistautoenrolment.co.uk or call me on 0191 5800318

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By Moonbeam
26th Sep 2014 07:42

Sage products

I've no idea why Sage shows 2 products. As I wouldn't recommend anyone purchases either it's not really of interest to me!

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By petersaxton
26th Sep 2014 08:18

BrightPay

I pay Sage £840 + VAT for about 30 payroll clients.

I would expect this to go up considerably for the Auto Enrolment Edition and Pensions Module - I'll ask them.

BrightPay at £199 + VAT looks a good deal.

https://www.brightpay.co.uk/

 

 

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By chatman
26th Sep 2014 08:36

Auto-enrolment Plan

Every offering we have had from IFAs has seemed very expensive for our clients. Our plan A, therefore, is to go with Now Pensions, as output from Payroll Manager can be uploaded to their portal and they handle the communications, which seems to be the biggest headache. We are still trying to find out whether People's Pensions does the communications, but it is looking like they do not.

Our only concern is that several people have said they prefer People's Pensions because the customer service is very good, which leaves me to believe that Now Pensions' might not be. It would be really good, therefore, to find out in which circumstances people have needed to use People's Pensions customer service, and if anyone has used Now's.

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Replying to Maslins:
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By lucy.danon
26th Sep 2014 09:27

@chatman - Now Pensions

I'd double check on Now Pensions doing the communications to employees - may well be right but my Payroll Manager said they wouldn't.

I think they can provide templates but won't actually send them out.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By chatman
26th Sep 2014 09:44

Now Pensions Does Communications

lucy.danon wrote:

I'd double check on Now Pensions doing the communications to employees - may well be right but my Payroll Manager said they wouldn't.

I think they can provide templates but won't actually send them out.

I have a recording of their salesman telling me that they do and explaining the pricing structure, which includes sending letters to employees for whom there is no confirmed email address.

If anyone wants to charge you for sending you templates, then bear in mind that templates are available free from the TPR web site.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
By Ian Batterbee
26th Sep 2014 12:49

NOW

lucy.danon wrote:

I'd double check on Now Pensions doing the communications to employees - may well be right but my Payroll Manager said they wouldn't.

I think they can provide templates but won't actually send them out.

 

Lucy

 

I've had a very interesting situation with NOW in the last week, relating to exactly this point.

 

In theory, yes they do.

 

Happy to have a chat if you wish.

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Replying to Glennzy:
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By chatman
26th Sep 2014 15:29

Interesting situation with NOW

Ian Batterbee wrote:

lucy.danon wrote:

I'd double check on Now Pensions doing the communications to employees - may well be right but my Payroll Manager said they wouldn't.

I think they can provide templates but won't actually send them out.

Lucy

I've had a very interesting situation with NOW in the last week, relating to exactly this point.

In theory, yes they do.

Happy to have a chat if you wish.

Any chance of sharing it on this thread Ian?

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Replying to Accountant A:
By Ian Batterbee
26th Sep 2014 17:06

NOW question

chatman wrote:

Ian Batterbee wrote:

lucy.danon wrote:

I'd double check on Now Pensions doing the communications to employees - may well be right but my Payroll Manager said they wouldn't.

I think they can provide templates but won't actually send them out.

Lucy

I've had a very interesting situation with NOW in the last week, relating to exactly this point.

In theory, yes they do.

Happy to have a chat if you wish.

Any chance of sharing it on this thread Ian?

 

Ok, so in simple terms, something got turned off, which shouldn't have been.

 

Luckily, the employer and I had decided (from outset) to take a belt and braces approach to this particular area, and it meant that despite the mistake (and the fact that NOW's middleware doesnt give the employer, or adviser the ability to check anything in their system) we complied with the rules.

 

If anyone wants to have more info, please PM me, as its a little sensitive at the moment.

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By [email protected]
26th Sep 2014 09:16

There have been several concerns voiced about whether you can/do give advice or not in this thread.

Henry has stated, quite rightly teh stance from TPR/FCA in that they say this is not regulated activity but you must have knowledge and skill to do it and the ICEAW have indicated that they would feel uncomfortable allowing its members to give "advice".

So....to be clear ANY indication that your clients should use one provider over another is advice. So anyone suggesting that all of their clients use NEST/Peoples/NOW or any other provider IS giving advice. This either sits well with you or does not based on all of the above. An IFA who makes an individual recommendation to each client has done research and carries the risk of that advice and this needs to be paid for if it is required. This leads us to the level of that fee. I am not here to say what is right or wrong and many different advisers include different things when they make there recommendations including implementation/employee presentations etc however it would appear that many AE specialists are settling around £500 plus VAT (we are slightly less than that ;-) (morning Henry!) to get a small business client ready and set up with one of the main stream pension providers. More than that you should be asking what you are getting (and you may be getting a lot by the way) any less than that and you may want to ask whether they know what they are doing and again how much you will end up doing yourself.

AE is all about preparation and experience, many people who read these threads have never staged a client yet or have maybe done one or two...PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE speak to people who have staged 10 or 20 or 100 to find out how this will affect your business before you buy any software (which is good but at best is only a 70% solution) before you decide what your approach will be and before you commit to a partnership.

This is going to be a long journey over the next couple of years and it will be painful if you are ill prepared and are partnered with the wrong people. The guys at Accounting Web who know me know that I love a good analogy so ANDY N this one's for you......

If I am going to the shop to buy some bread an milk and its going to take me 15 minutes and I need to take my 5 year old with me (apparently you can't leave them at home to fend for themselves these days!!) I would stick him on his booster seat drive there, he would moan about why he is supposed to go with me but I would cope.

If I was driving him to Southampton to visit his grandparents etc I would pack snacks, a drink and his iPad so he was occupied and didn't nag me about being bored and hungry the whole way.

Can I suggest that your AE trip will be similar. If you have one client to stage and that's it then it will be a one off pain but you will get over it. If you have many to stage over the next two or three years then pack snacks and prepare otherwise they will be the most painful two to three years of your working life!

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Replying to Accountant A:
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By chatman
26th Sep 2014 09:45

Not everything is advice

SteveB @ LPAES wrote:
anyone suggesting that all of their clients use NEST/Peoples/NOW or any other provider IS giving advice

I would disagree with that. If I say "We use Now Pensions", that probably suggests that we put all our clients on it, but it is not giving advice. I imagine most people would also add a disclaimer stating that they have not reviewed the whole market and are not purporting to give advice or make recommendations.

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By Kazmc
26th Sep 2014 09:41

@lucy.danon

We recently had a meeting with Now:Pensions and they definitely do handle all the comms which we were very relieved about!

Hope this helps..

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By chatman
26th Sep 2014 09:51

AE Plan B

I forgot to mention, our plan B is to use People's Pensions and, if necessary, do the communications ourselves with all queries being directed to People's.

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By chatman
26th Sep 2014 11:12

Beware of IFAs charging for free information

In fact, anyone offering to charge you for information that is available free on the TPR web site should be avoided.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
By [email protected]
26th Sep 2014 12:44

No advice needed??

chatman wrote:

In fact, anyone offering to charge you for information that is available free on the TPR web site should be avoided.

Surely everything is available on their website as they enforce the legislation...does this mean that no advice and help is needed other than their website?

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Replying to vtsoftware:
By Ian Batterbee
26th Sep 2014 13:06

Do it yourself?

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

chatman wrote:

In fact, anyone offering to charge you for information that is available free on the TPR web site should be avoided.

Surely everything is available on their website as they enforce the legislation...does this mean that no advice and help is needed other than their website?

 

Its an interesting point.

 

Can you run your own AE?

Yes.

 

Can you fix your own car, by using the internet and Haynes manuals?

Yep.

 

Can you do your own accounts, payroll, RTI and tax returns?

Course you can.

 

Would you want to?

Depends.  I wouldn't.

 

I'd rather pay a professional to do the stuff I don.t really understand in order that I can get on with my main business, but it is of course the employers decision.

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Replying to SXGuy:
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By chatman
26th Sep 2014 15:18

What is a professional?

Ian Batterbee wrote:

I'd rather pay a professional to do the stuff I don.t really understand in order that I can get on with my main business, but it is of course the employers decision.

Of course, but what do we mean by a professional? It's not just someone who specialises in a particular field; it is a member of one of the professions. I would be happy to leave it to an expert, but how can you measure someone's expertise unless there there is a well-respected qualification to help you? I wouldn't want a qualified nurse to do my open heart surgery even if (s)he had been doing it every day for years.

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Replying to Wilson Philips:
By Ian Batterbee
26th Sep 2014 16:12

Using an adviser.

chatman wrote:

Ian Batterbee wrote:

I'd rather pay a professional to do the stuff I don.t really understand in order that I can get on with my main business, but it is of course the employers decision.

Of course, but what do we mean by a professional? It's not just someone who specialises in a particular field; it is a member of one of the professions. I would be happy to leave it to an expert, but how can you measure someone's expertise unless there there is a well-respected qualification to help you? I wouldn't want a qualified nurse to do my open heart surgery even if (s)he had been doing it every day for years.

 

I mean someone who makes their living performing the function I am unable/unwilling to.  I dont need my plumber to have a degree in engineering, but I'd like him to be gas safe qualified, and experienced.

 

There is a workplace pensions qualification, from the Pension Management Institute. Whether its well respected among people other than those who have taken it, I couldn't comment....

 

The world of AE advice is unregulated (despite the fact that there is a body called the Pension Regulator) and as such, it is very much buyer beware.  You have master trusts offering guidance (on their own product) IFAs flogging pensions without thought to the payroll process, payroll providers telling their clients "dont worry, we've got AE sorted" when they absolutely havent, and plenty of other examples of misinformation being slung around.

 

 

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Replying to workingday:
By petersaxton
26th Sep 2014 16:20

Agreed

Ian Batterbee wrote:

chatman wrote:

Ian Batterbee wrote:

I'd rather pay a professional to do the stuff I don.t really understand in order that I can get on with my main business, but it is of course the employers decision.

Of course, but what do we mean by a professional? It's not just someone who specialises in a particular field; it is a member of one of the professions. I would be happy to leave it to an expert, but how can you measure someone's expertise unless there there is a well-respected qualification to help you? I wouldn't want a qualified nurse to do my open heart surgery even if (s)he had been doing it every day for years.

 

I mean someone who makes their living performing the function I am unable/unwilling to.  I dont need my plumber to have a degree in engineering, but I'd like him to be gas safe qualified, and experienced.

 

There is a workplace pensions qualification, from the Pension Management Institute. Whether its well respected among people other than those who have taken it, I couldn't comment....

 

The world of AE advice is unregulated (despite the fact that there is a body called the Pension Regulator) and as such, it is very much buyer beware.  You have master trusts offering guidance (on their own product) IFAs flogging pensions without thought to the payroll process, payroll providers telling their clients "dont worry, we've got AE sorted" when they absolutely havent, and plenty of other examples of misinformation being slung around.

 

 

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Replying to vtsoftware:
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By chatman
26th Sep 2014 15:26

Why pay for the easy stuff?

SteveB @ LPAES wrote:

chatman wrote:

In fact, anyone offering to charge you for information that is available free on the TPR web site should be avoided.

Surely everything is available on their website as they enforce the legislation...does this mean that no advice and help is needed other than their website?

Clearly not, but why pay for the easy stuff?

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By petersaxton
26th Sep 2014 11:28

Sage Payroll

I've been quoted £480 + VAT to add Auto Enrolment and Pensions Module to Sage Payroll which costs me £840 + VAT for up to 50 employers each with up to 25 employees.

That's a lot more than BrightPay who charge £199 + VAT.

I may run both side by side for a couple of months.

 

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Replying to The Innkeeper:
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By chatman
26th Sep 2014 11:40

Sage/BrightPay AE and Pensions Modules

petersaxton wrote:

I've been quoted £480 + VAT to add Auto Enrolment and Pensions Module to Sage Payroll which costs me £840 + VAT for up to 50 employers each with up to 25 employees.

That's a lot more than BrightPay who charge £199 + VAT.

What do you actually get with these modules Peter?

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Replying to LostinSuspense:
By petersaxton
26th Sep 2014 13:37

Modules

chatman wrote:

petersaxton wrote:

I've been quoted £480 + VAT to add Auto Enrolment and Pensions Module to Sage Payroll which costs me £840 + VAT for up to 50 employers each with up to 25 employees.

That's a lot more than BrightPay who charge £199 + VAT.

What do you actually get with these modules Peter?

The auto enrolment edition doesn't produce correspondence but the pensions module does. BrightPay does it all.

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Replying to The Innkeeper:
By Ian Batterbee
26th Sep 2014 12:54

Sage Module

petersaxton wrote:

I've been quoted £480 + VAT to add Auto Enrolment and Pensions Module to Sage Payroll which costs me £840 + VAT for up to 50 employers each with up to 25 employees.

That's a lot more than BrightPay who charge £199 + VAT.

I may run both side by side for a couple of months.

 

 

Peter

 

The Sage module does lots of things, and is useful, there is a fair amount of duplication involved, if you are using either middleware, or a pension company that offer software.

 

 

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By [email protected]
26th Sep 2014 12:29

Advice

As a regulated adviser of some 20+ years anyone professional who mentions a provider in any context whilst discussing a service that they provide will be judged to have given advice by the FCA.

The fact that the employer concerned will have followed your example will be the evidence of such. Writing a disclaimer on the comments made will not nullify their affect otherwise IFA's al over teh country would be able to say "Aviva are really good and this is how to get a scheme but please don't take this as advice" without redress...and they can't. 

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Replying to userfree:
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By chatman
26th Sep 2014 15:04

Evidence?

SteveB @ LPAES wrote:
anyone professional who mentions a provider in any context whilst discussing a service that they provide will be judged to have given advice by the FCA [...] Writing a disclaimer on the comments made will not nullify their affect (sic)

Have you got any evidence to support this Steve?

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By Ian Batterbee
26th Sep 2014 12:48

Firstly, the accountant must understand what he wants to get out of AE? 

Is it that he wants his problem taken away (the problem being that his clients think he's "doing it" for them) or does he want to engage and earn some money out of it? 

I've got accountants doing both, and its a very different process. 

They've also got to be thinking about how they get the message out, we are doing seminars with accountants at their premises, and suggest that they segment their clients into boxes of ten, and work our way through them, offering them support. 

They have got to accept that their clients are under the misconception that their accountant is taking care of all this for them, and the sooner they act, the better. 

As far as the debate about advice for the actual scheme goes, its going to be irrelevant in a few months when the last "mainstream insurer" switches the lights off.....the vast majority are creaking under the strain already.

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Replying to Glennzy:
Euan's picture
By Euan MacLennan
26th Sep 2014 14:58

You are wrong

Ian Batterbee wrote:

They have got to accept that their clients are under the misconception that their accountant is taking care of all this for them, and the sooner they act, the better. 

Most of our clients are blissfully unaware of Auto-Enrolment, even though we have given them advance warning.  None of them assume that we will be taking care of it for them.  As I have said elsewhere, the only reason why TPR and the pension industry say that everyone should start planning a year ahead (apart from blatant self-interest in the case of the industry) is that the arrangements are ludicrously complicated.  Even the clients who are vaguely aware of Auto-Enrolment are not going to do anything about it until the last minute.  There are few things that small businesses will plan for a year ahead and they are certainly not going to bang their heads against brick walls trying to understand Auto-Enrolment before they absolutely have to.

 

Carolynne wrote:

I am still staggered that people are paying so much money  for Sage payroll - one comment here was £840 for 30 payrolls per annum. When Moneysoft cover up to 100 payrolls for just over £116 net and for up to 250 payrolls £174 net per annum, and the technical help is free.

I couldn't agree more but to set the record straight, it is actually even better value than you cliam - £116 for unlimited payrolls of up to 100 employees or sub-contractors each and £174 for unlimited payrolls of up to 250 employee/subbies each.

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By DavidRoderick
26th Sep 2014 12:52

Auto-Enrolment

 

This was running as a seperate thread on Linked In so Maria suggested I repost:

 

As we move into 2015/16 the accountants and payroll bureaus will dominate the market in terms of where clients seek advice and support on fulfilling their AE obligations. Many will be well placed to provide this support but as a cautionary note there is more to a compliant solution than just assessment and issuing communications.

If you are choosing to become involved then as Carolyn has said, do the graft and understand both what your software will deliver and crucially the elements of the employer obligations that it won't. With this knowledge you can then engage with your clients for auto enrolment fulfilment ensuring there is clarity for who is responsible for what actions otherwise you run the risk of your client assuming 'you are dealing with it' and some very challenging conversations if / when it goes astray.

Auto enrolment delivery presents a clear business opportunity for many but like all opportunities it comes with associated risks! We have produced an handy guide 'working with accountants and payrolls' which presents some common sense questions you may want to consider before committing to provide a service. This can be downloaded from www.johnsonfleming.com 

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By DavidRoderick
26th Sep 2014 12:53

Sourcing a pension scheme

Stephen makes a fair point as the market for QWPS is indeed restricted but that does not mean that clients will not benefit from advice. This may be independent or restricted and providing this covers the range of appropriate providers and the firm or person delivering the guidance has sufficient knowledge and a comprehensive research and audit process then the end user should benefit from receiving the advice. What is true is that a one size fits all approach, being NEST or other provider is not sufficient.

I have seen some eye watering fee costs for undertaking this research and like Stephen would question the end benefit to the client however, and without wanting to be accused of self promotion, there are options available including our own where the accountant / client can obtain independent advice tailored to their circumstances on scheme selection supported by a full recommendation report for a cost of £100's rather than £1000's. 

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By Carolynne
26th Sep 2014 13:17

Staggered

I am still staggered that people are paying so much money  for Sage payroll - one comment here was £840 for 30 payrolls per annum. When Moneysoft cover up to 100 payrolls for just over £116 net and for up to 250 payrolls £174 net per annum, and the technical help is free.  I have used this since 2004.

 

Regarding Auto Enrolment.  I want to be able to make money out of this.  But as a couple of people have mentioned.  Am unsure I could trust any IFA not to poach my business to another accountant at some point.  I am not tarring them all with the same brush here.  I say this purely because, I don’t know an IFA and would not know how you can tell a really good one from a bad one.  I would be giving a stranger an insight into my client bank.

 Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to overcome this worry?

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Replying to phoesal:
By [email protected]
26th Sep 2014 13:50

How do I find someone to work with...

Carolynne wrote:

 Am unsure I could trust any IFA not to poach my business to another accountant at some point.  I am not tarring them all with the same brush here.  I say this purely because, I don’t know an IFA and would not know how you can tell a really good one from a bad one.  I would be giving a stranger an insight into my client bank.

 Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to overcome this worry?

First things first any bona fide adviser will offer you a legal agreement encompassing protection in terms of DPA as you will be passing sensitive data between yourselves. If they don't DO NOT TOUCH THEM! This can also cover non compete/marketing clauses.Meet with a couple....I know this takes time but it is easier to compare notes when you have seen a couple of people about the same topic the inconsistencies will show very quickly I would have thought.Get a recommendation from some of your colleagues/fellow accountants. Who are they using or more importantly do you know anyone who is any good?

Combine those three and where there are no guarantees in life you will be closer to the answer.

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Replying to Kaylee100:
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By Carolynne
26th Sep 2014 13:59

Thanks SteveB

Thanks Steve, you have helped me a lot with your reply.

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Replying to Kaylee100:
By Ian Batterbee
26th Sep 2014 15:00

picking an IFA

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

Carolynne wrote:

 Am unsure I could trust any IFA not to poach my business to another accountant at some point.  I am not tarring them all with the same brush here.  I say this purely because, I don’t know an IFA and would not know how you can tell a really good one from a bad one.  I would be giving a stranger an insight into my client bank.

 Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to overcome this worry?

First things first any bona fide adviser will offer you a legal agreement encompassing protection in terms of DPA as you will be passing sensitive data between yourselves. If they don't DO NOT TOUCH THEM! This can also cover non compete/marketing clauses.Meet with a couple....I know this takes time but it is easier to compare notes when you have seen a couple of people about the same topic the inconsistencies will show very quickly I would have thought.Get a recommendation from some of your colleagues/fellow accountants. Who are they using or more importantly do you know anyone who is any good?

Combine those three and where there are no guarantees in life you will be closer to the answer.

 

I'd suggest that any IFA/AE specialist that did what you suggest would be foolish in the extreme, it would be like asking for turkeys to vote for Christmas....

I'd also make the point that most IFAs have no more knowledge about AE than most accountants.

 

If AE is an A4 piece of paper, the pension decision is the bottom 5% of the page.

 

Just because someone is an IFA doesnt give them the knowledge they need to run AE advice......

 

 

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Replying to johnhemming:
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By Irishdaz
30th Sep 2014 13:48

some IFAs are definitely better qualified to help

Ian,

I agree that some IFAs are not very clued up on AE, but they are probably also not looking to work in this area. I know many who have no intention of dealing with AE at all, preferring to focus on personal clients instead

The rest of us have been working towards AE for over 3 years, planning & studying every bit of legislation & provider info we can lay our hands on. How many accountants can say the same, when they have had RTI to deal with?

Couple this with our in depth knowledge about pensions & providers and you have some very highly skilled people out there.

Surely it is better for you and your client to refer them to someone like that? I don't really understand why there is so much mis-trust between some IFAs and Accountants, and why the services of IFAs are so undervalued by some Accountants. Most IFAs are highly skilled, qualified & experienced, just like accountants.

As an IFA I have to have a good working knowledge of personal taxation (upon which we have studied and are tested as part of our ongoing qualification process), but that wouldn't lead me to give the sort of advice that you as an accountant would give. I am therefore perfectly happy to refer my clients on to a good accountant. I would certainly never refer a client referred to me by one accountant onto another, and I would never assume that an accountant would do similar

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Replying to phoesal:
By petersaxton
26th Sep 2014 13:53

Sage Payroll

Carolynne wrote:

I am still staggered that people are paying so much money  for Sage payroll - one comment here was £840 for 30 payrolls per annum. When Moneysoft cover up to 100 payrolls for just over £116 net and for up to 250 payrolls £174 net per annum, and the technical help is free.  I have used this since 2004.

I can use 50 payrolls per annum for £840 and this includes technical support. I accept that you can export Sage Payroll data to Moneysoft and BrightPay but it is a lot of hassle to change software if you don't have any problems with the software. Auto Enrolment may be a reason to think again.

 

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