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Starting out on the AE journey

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8th Sep 2015
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In a new series of articles on AccountingWEB, Robert Lovell speaks to an accountant starting out on his auto enrolment journey.

Despite the No-one gets left behind awareness campaign there are still a lot of questions among accountants on auto enrolment, as well as reluctance to engage with clients on the topic.

In this article, a director in a business start-up specialist firm reveals his initial thoughts on auto enrolment and what he plans to do next.

For this accountant the early stages of his AE journey have so far meant doing research and trying to understand the market. He is yet to have any proactive conversations with his clients on the topic.

“I’ve had the odd chat when a letter from The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has come through and I’ve explained what it means to them, but I’ve not gone out and offered any particular service. I’m at the very beginning,” he said.

The first step is often about trying to understand in more detail what the requirements are for clients, most of whom are staging in 2017.

Having read up on the subject from the regulator website, NEST and vendors like NOW: Pensions, the accountant said he had seen a lot of marketing from membership organisations trying to sell their own services and products to accountants, to then sell on to clients.

“There are customers that would want to use that kind of middleware, but I want to look at it from the angle of what a company has to do and what’s the best way for each individual company.”

He has also received many enquiries from IFAs, but found most of them were offering pension management and didn’t have much to do with AE. “They wanted a piece of the pie but when it came to the administration of AE and the work involved they weren’t really offering that service.

“So I stopped talking to IFAs about it. It seemed they were just interested in charging companies money for managing their pension scheme when actually there’s quite a few solutions out there where small businesses can latch on these pensions and not pay a pricey sum for it,” he said.

Having done some research, he is planning to present three or four options to clients. “I might say, these are the options – there’s a DIY option, an option where we work together or there’s a fully done for you option, rather than trying to sell one particular product or service across the board for everyone. I’ve not gone down that route yet though,” he said.

For him it’s about identifying the different ways of solving the AE problem and figuring out which solution to offer depending on size of business. At this point he is still considering what makes financial sense for his clients.

“AE is often promoted as a way for accountants to make money and to see it as an additional revenue stream. It can be – but longer-term people will start looking at alternatives and you can lose some goodwill if they don’t feel you’re offering the best value,” he said.

AccountingWEB will be tracking this accountant's progress as he engages with AE in the coming months.

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.

Replies (4)

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By memyself-eye
08th Sep 2015 11:47

it's not a jourrney

it's a bloody nightmare. we work for two pubs with 50 plus staff only three or four of whom are 'eligible' to be enrolled. The company are postponing so 50+ letters have to go to... kids mostly, who will not understand anything in those letters. I took the standard postponement letter which is virtually unintelligible and amended it so that it was marginally less convoluted than the original. What will happen is the owners will be deluged with youngsters asking "what does this mean?"

Added to that, most of the staff are part time and it will be impossible to get them together at one time and in one place to explain AE - even if they were interested - and at 18 or 19 years old who would be?

All this for the con that they'll get a decent pension for a miserable one percent contribution!

Of course the owners when considering pay increases next year will have the perfect excuse for a zero increase.

Madness!

 

 

 

 

 

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By OPTIMISE
08th Sep 2015 16:03

AE

There are lot of promotion by AE administration service providers. Their charges for small businesses are excessive. It ranges from £1000 to well over £6000 for initial set up fees.Accountants and Payroll Service providers have to be careful as to how they structure their services around this.

I came across General Life whose charges are reasonable but please check them out they do webinar and demonstrations.

We are looking at providing cost effective solutions to our clients because we do not want to damage our trust which has been built over many years.

 

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By johnjenkins
10th Sep 2015 10:56

A brilliant

article, Robert. I look forward to the follow ups.

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By [email protected]
17th Sep 2015 11:44

Just so we are clear.....

 

"Added to that, most of the staff are part time and it will be impossible to get them together at one time and in one place to explain AE - even if they were interested - and at 18 or 19 years old who would be?"

18 and 19 year olds should not be enrolled they are below the threshold. They may not read the letter but nothing will happen to them as a result of not reading the letter

I will be interested to read more of what happens in this thread as the number of providers offering "free" access reduces and so these "panels" reduce in size. How often will the Accountant review the panel and against what criteria? Nothing wrong with panels but things change and sometimes not for the better.

Will also be interested to hear the episode where our Accountant actually stages his first client!!

As an aside.... not all advisers charge four figure somes to get a client "past the post" some options exist in the mid to low hundreds and are open to bureau's who want to work with them.

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