‘AE in a box’ has sights on small employers

A financial planner has launched a low-cost tool to help advisers cope with the mass of small employers who are being auto-enrolled, Chris Daems has said.

The director of Romford-based Principal Financial Solutions and director of the Auto-Enrolment Advisory Group, said the product – called AE in a Box – was made with both the adviser and the employer in mind.

He said: “We have never launched a product before so the key thing we did was speak to a lot of financial advisers about it.”

Mr Daems said that his own firm is on his 30th scheme that is being auto-enrolled, and has advised employers with 100 to 2000 staff, so has gone through a steep learning curve over the past couple of years since auto-enrolment was launched.

He said: “What we found is that it was more than pensions: it was project management, working together with human resources and payroll. It was very task driven and many employers did not even know what the tasks were.”

Earlier this year, when Mr Daems wrote a White Paper on the subject, he said that while the midsized companies have largely auto-enrolled successfully, the time was coming for small and micro employers

to comply, and this would be causing significant problems both for advisers and the employers.

Mr Daems added: “Many small companies just do not have the budget to get advice on all these areas. We did not want to close the doors on them so we had to work out a way to service that sector – there are more than 1m employers out there who need our help.”

AE in a Box is a piece of software that is priced £79 upfront and £29 a month.

It is a project management tool in essence, allowing the employer to log on and complete various auto-enrolment tasks systematically. Advisers plugging into this can see where their client is along the auto-enrolment staging process, and make sure deadlines are not missed.

There are some FAQs as well as educational information outlining what is needed under auto-enrolment. The firm has also provided videos that employers can use with their staff to help them understand why it is good to enrol in a pension.

Adviser view

Roger Tull, Independent Financial Adviser for Leigh-on-Sea based Positive Solutions (part of Intrinsic), said: “Nothing monitors the market so well as Mr Daems’ AE in a Box. It can be difficult for an IFA to deal with the smallest segment as they don’t want to pay much and yet they will need a full service. So the important thing here is that an employer can use this tool to follow things systematically without advice, filtering out the majority of problems and helping me to segment the market and focus on those who really need advice.”