Automatic enrolment  

How to help your smallest clients through staging

This article is part of
Guide to automatic enrolment

"A thorough assessment of the default fund should help advisers to cast the deciding vote. After all, with approximately nine out of 10 workers remaining in the default fund, the impact of its quality is likely to be significant."

Therefore, Mr Armer adds, while cost and performance are important considerations, other assessments such as strong governance and protecting members' interests, should also perform part of the information-gathering process before a recommendation is made.

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Duty to comply

Graham Peacock, managing director of Salvus Master Trust, believes advisers or providers should not be carrying the can for smaller employers - it is ultimately the duty of the employer.

He explains: "It's not about advisers or providers helping: the duty falls to the employer, such as paying tax or national insurance or paying staff.

"It is something that whoever runs payroll must deal with. Employers must get involved, get set up, choose a pension and then run auto-enrolment or find a payroll professional who will do it for them.

"They cannot continue to delay and bury their heads in the sand and then expect advisers and providers to pick up the pieces."

Yet whether the government and various regulatory bodies have done enough to make people aware of their duties is another thing, according to Mr Agathangelou, who comments: "In the main, small employers have not been properly informed of the risks of fines and potential litigation.

"The [Department for Work & Pensions'] Workie advertising is too soft and fluffy, in every sense."

Mr Peacock adds: "The Pensions Regulator must show some teeth and explain what needs to be done, by when, and leave employers in no doubt that if they do not comply, they will be fined."

Perhaps because of the complexity and lack of understanding, Mr Daems argues the need for collaboration is clear: "Complying successfully with auto-enrolment, in our experience, normally involves collaboration with an adviser, payroll bureau, any software being used, or an accountant and the employer."

New employers

It is worth mentioning that new employers setting up this year have been given a three-month grace period whereby they can postpone new workers joining the pension scheme. 

This was outlined in the government's six-page March document, Workplace Pensions Automatic Enrolment: Miscellaneous Regulations Package 2017.

The document states: "The government is committed to making auto-enrolment as simple as possible and minimising burdens on employers.

"Respondents broadly welcomed the proposed changes to the auto-enrolment duties trigger date for post-staging employers as a sensible solution to the issue of how best to apply the near-instantaneous auto-enrolment duties to new employers that come into existence during 2017.