Aegon steps up online support for AE firms

The technical development manager in the pensions division at Aegon said the provider’s online hub had evolved from offering general background on auto-enrolment to providing more specific guidance for small- and medium-sized businesses about to enter the fray this year.

The portal will be offering a short film on SmartEnrol, the provider’s auto-enrolment solution, and three short films answering common questions about the changes and guidance on what to expect pre-staging and beyond.

The enhancements come as the Pensions Playpen, a new venture from the First Actuarial consultancy, revealed a positive take-up among medium-sized businesses for its scheme-picking service.

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More than 170 employers have used the Choose a Pension tool (CAP) since its launch in November.

The site’s co-founder, Pete Shellswell, argued that advisers could afford to research workplace pensions “without inadequate compensation”, adding that he did not blame advisers for walking away from the market.

However, he added: “The fact is that advisers are the people many employers rely on for pension advice, and we need to give them a way to help their clients without wrecking their business model.”

Johnson Fleming, the workplace pensions consultancy, has also stepped into the market for auto-enrolment help, launching a specialist service for SMEs this month.

Matt Bell, director at West Midlands-based Prosperity Wealth, said JF’s service had helped the firm to detach itself from traditional pension providers that “cherry-pick” the best schemes.

He said: “We had found that most product providers were cherry-picking the best schemes and we found it difficult to offer our clients the best independent service.

“We spent time reviewing Johnson Flemings’ back-office systems, and believe using them means we can offer true, independent advice.”