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.