NOW – that’s what I call pensions!


Morten Nilsson – NOW CEO



Why the Pension PlayPen supports NOW as a workplace pension

It’s no easy thing starting a master trust from scratch. Though NOW Pensions, had the experience of running a state backed pension in Denmark (through parent APT), coming to Britain and achieving top three status as an auto-enrolment provider in just five years is a huge achievement.

I carry a NOW rucksack in admiration of a pension scheme that has admirable governance, sound management , a great investment product and a pioneering approach to customer management. There is no more progressive collective pension in Britain and NOW remain a favourite both with Pension PlayPen and the employers and advisers who use it.


Trouble at t’pit

So I was a little surprised (and to be hones miffed) to have been presented as “slamming” NOW for imposing fees to employers reversing out of the master trust within two years of joining. Late last year I was reported as slamming now for their Christmas black-out when changing back office support from Equiniti to JLT. Anyone called Morten Nilsson might be thinking I’m on his back!


NOW are not yet the finished article

NOW do show some signs of inexperience, but it is because they are new kids on the block. Our ratings of NOW have always included some marking down for growing pains. You don’t expect a two year old colt to get tactics right on the race course but NOW has the potential (like the colt) to become a champion three year old.

There are a few trees getting in the way of a proper view of the wood right now. The choice of Equiniti proved unfortunate, we are not totally convinced about JLT and I wrote to Morten last year suggesting that they might need to consider an in -house solution eventually. The problem with exit fees (apart from us not knowing they were being imposed) is that they could be imposed on employers who are leaving through necessity not capriciousness.

A pension is for life and not just for staging and any employer who resigns from participating in NOW in the first 24 months has either had an awful experience with payroll or is going bust. I cannot see any reason for jumping ship for anything other than operational reasons. If any adviser or employer can give me one- speak now!


 NOW are not a  universal solution

If employers have problems with NOW for operational reasons, then one has to question what due diligence it did when selecting the pension. Steve Brice on a thread in Linked in

The main stream providers even chose who they will take AND apply their fee to, whereas NOW:Pensions are taking on all comers and only charging those who leave them shortly afterwards.

If care is taken up front when choosing your pension scheme and employers are aware of the exit fee within the first two years where’s the harm?
If employers don’t like this they will chose one of the other providers who do not apply such a charge….am I wrong?
It will however add a twist to the story of accountants setting up exclusively with NOW:Pensions for all of their clients if those client are not aware of the penalty…who will end up paying if the small company goes bust or leaves NOW early?.

In reality, NOW is not always the best fit for employers. It doesn’t work well with all payrolls (IRIS for one) and its monthly employer charge makes it expensive to deferred members of highly transient workforces. NOW doesn’t suit workforces that like to self-select funds nor is it a brand that works for all employers.

The one size fits all brigade (that Steve mentions) now have the emerging issue of explaining to employers who have been shoe-horned into the wrong pension , that they need to pay for the shoe-horn to get them out. Message to quoted firms- use a proper search engine in future (you know the one).


NOW have got the basics right

In reality NOW has generally gone down well with employers. They excell in customer support (I have sat in their contact centres). They are good with HR and payroll and though we have marked them down recently, because of the disruption that they have been through, we are genuinely shocked to hear that any employer would have had to leave NOW so soon after joining.

But expect growing pains

But I do worry about exit penalties. Like Steve, I would prefer the cost to be incurred up front, or better, borne by NOW as an underwriting cost. The exit penalty route smacks of bad practices from insurers in years past.

There are approximately 200,000 employers borne every year and roughly the same number fail. If NOW were to charge those employers that fail within two years of staging £500, then the exit penalty will become meaningful (NOW has a lot of clients).


Next steps!

That we have not been explicitly warning of these penalties on our website is an oversight on our part. That we did not know of them (if the reporting is correct) is an oversight on NOW’s part. these are the kind of mistakes that are made by two year old colts and hopefully they are not repeated.

I have written to NOW on this and will publish the response on this blog. As I said at the top, it’s not often that a newcomer to the scheme does as much good as NOW has done, I do not expect it to drop its standards and I see the problems of the past few months as part of growing pains.

For now, the message for NOW is keep on keeping on.

The CEO speaks


Since publishing this blog- Morten Nilsson has sent me this response which I am happy to include in the blog- verbatim.

Ever since we launched in 2012, we have provided a low cost pension scheme with a highly sophisticated investment solution that is available to all employers and all employees with no minimum contributions or set up fees.


We pride ourselves on our transparent, easy to understand pricing structure and have always been entirely up front and honest with our fees and charges.


The right to charge a break fee exists, and has been part of our contracts since we launched, mainly to make sure employers understand the long term nature of the agreement and is typically around £500. It is designed to recover our set-up costs if the contract is terminated within two years.

With every scheme we set up, there is considerable administrative work involved. Each employer has their own individual online portal and we proactively call employers to support them with their initial file uploads. Over the past year we have also invested heavily in online systems and tools to help employers with their ongoing auto enrolment administration.


The level of the fee is proportionate to the size of the employer, with small employers paying less than large employers, due to the differing levels of work involved. The break fee is clearly outlined (how much it is and when it would be applied) in the contract the employer signs with us. It’s certainly not the case that it’s in the small print.


To date, the break fee has only been applied in a handful of circumstances. By and large employers understand the long term nature of the contract they are signing and the commitment that this requires from both parties.


Morten Nilsson, CEO, NOW: Pensions







About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
This entry was posted in advice gap, auto-enrolment, now, pensions and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to NOW – that’s what I call pensions!

  1. Pi Consulting says:

    NOW have been a great addition to the UK market. They aren’t the best choice for every employer for a range of reasons but have always been transparent on fees. We did due dligence work on them for a possible client over 18 months ago and they gave full info on potential scheme exit penalties, so don’t understand why this is now headline news.

    • henry tapper says:

      I think its because we cant all do due diligence to the same standard! We hold our hands up as not picking up on this. That sais we need to be proportionate. The cost to an sme is significant!

  2. Jim Kirkland says:

    I have had a very poor experience with NOW Pensions who have failed to invest my pension contributions due to a claimed database problem on their part. They have so far failed to address my complaint against them as well as complaints from my Member of Parliament. Customer service has been zero and I could not recommend this company to anyone.

    • Charlie Bishop says:

      You are not alone. Monthly processing worked very smoothly for 6 months or so and then lots of problems. Inconsistent responses from Customer Services who don’t give time frames for resolving any issues

      • James Kirkland says:

        I’m certainly not Charlie. I’ve been contacted by numerous victims of the NOW scammers. When are the financial press going to speak out ? Pensions Regulator and Financial Ombudsman both well aware but not speaking out. There’s a whiff of something rotten and it’s getting stronger. What about this forum ? Isn’t it about time these crooks were outed ?

        Sent from my Sony Xperia™ smartphone

  3. Liz Hillary says:

    I have had exactly the same experience as Jim with NOW Pensions. We started our scheme in January 2013 when Equiniti was doing the administration. Everything was fine for 2 years but they have taken no contributions since changing administrators at the beginning of this year. I can’t get anywhere with customer support at all. I have also been told that this is a technical issue and is with their tech team but they can’t tell me when it will be fixed. I haven’t quite got to the point of complaining about them but I suppose that is the next step. If I have to leave them (because basically at the moment, they aren’t running a pension scheme for our company) and they tried to charge me I would be furious!

    • James Kirkland says:

      Liz. The Pensions Regulator has told me verbally by telephone that there are a lot of people in workplace schemes in a similar position yet when I made a Freedom on Information request as to how many cases they are investigating they refused on the grounds that it might impede investigations they MAY be undertaking. If you would like to contact me by e mail at I will be happy to provide you with details of my M.P’s caseworker who is in the process of trying to recover my money for me which NOW Pensions have failed to account for. A large percentage of my contributions have not been invested by NOW and I am very concerned at their total disregard of their duty to invest and manage my lawful pension contributions.

      Sent from my Sony Xperia™ smartphone

  4. rtvaughan says:

    Now: Pensions are awful. Nearly every employee I’ve talked to at my workplace have had issue with their pension with these guys. Half of us can’t log into the portal, customer service is non-existent, NOW have taken money late from our employer. None of us have had statements detailing all contributions and the current balance of the account. At the moment, my money (and the contribution from my employer) is being taken by these guys, but I have ZERO visibility on what they are doing with it.

  5. Jimmy Kirkland says:

    I have been unsuccessfully trying to deal with the mal administration of my pension contributions lawfully made to NOW Pensions for months. They have failed to respond to my complaints and at various stages have claimed that I have left their pension scheme, denied receiving my contributions despite concrete evidence from my former Employers Company Accountants to the contrary, assured me they were going to refund my contributions and most recently informed me they were not going to give me my money back as I had allegedly been a member of their scheme for more than two years. Part of my complaint is that they have never even sent me membership details in the first place. I have referred my situation to Member of Parliament Alan Brown amd urge all others in a similar situation to contact him with details of what is going on. I made a Freedom of Information request to the Pensions Regulator asking for details of:

    A – How many complaints had been made against NOW Pensions in relation to failure to collect and invest pension contributions.

    B – How many investigations were ongoing against NOW Pensions

    My request was rejected as the Pensions Regulator state that discosure of this information might impede investigations which may or may not be ongoing.

    In my opinion – An establishment cover up !!!

    I am a retired Police Inspector and smell a rat here.

    Please feel welcome to contact me with your complaints which I will be more than happy to pass on to my Member of Parliament.

    I can be contacted at

  6. Silas says:

    DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT go with NOW Pensions. The new administrators are hopeless. Like a deer caught in the headlights. Have had no end of problems with data not being integrated properly, me and others being pushed from pillar to post and back. The form filling, I changed address halfway through my refund process and had to jump through hoops just to get my address updated as I had left the company. I have been waiting over a year for contributions of mine to be refunded to me. Every few months I get an awfully crafted letter telling me my ”contributions are being investigated” – I now have four of these letters – FOUR. What do they need to investigate? Either you have the money or you do not. I’d much rather be told the truth than fed a banquet of b**sh*t about how ”it’s not the employers fault” (I know that, I used to assist payroll in uploading the data files) or ” the funds are being reconciled” (oh pull the other one, it’s got bells on!). My case was apparently passed onto the Employer Relationship Liaison Manager who deals with the service from NOW to the employer. They were bloody useless and just sat on everything that was emailed over to them. The new administrator are tied between the duty to NOW and actually doing the right thing which often ends up in a lot of scripted spiel coming out of the call centre agents mouths at JLT. It’s embarrassing. The kids that work there are clearly not supported by management at all, it’s just embarrassing trying to hear them talk their way out of the BS this change in administration has created. They have been nothing but professional in dealing with me, so I’ll give them that – JLT and NOW need to be aware of that, but I can’t imagine that listening to people like me complaining all day (I know I’m not the only person affected) is pleasant. I’ll tell you, I’ve given them what for a few times over the phone, mostly because manager call backs are never returned and then I have to start calling back again. I think I have actually taken note of every person there I’ve spoken to!

    I have a colleague who wants to transfer, he’s had this transfer in process with NOW for 8 MONTHS and nothing. I’m in the process of setting up my own pension scheme – now have my own business with fourteen staff and I wouldn’t touch NOW with a barge pole. Their company portal is absolutely horrendous! You can never log in, unless you have an email address on file – I had two records as I left the company and came back last year, one record had an email address and one didn’t. The portal also (I was told by a call agent) generates automated letters. This can happen if you’ve earned less one month and then you’re told your not in the scheme when you are. That’s when the bloody things working! We initially spent 3 months with a portal that said it was down for ”15 minute” maintenance” . . .for three months, Oh come ON!
    When calling as an employer, there’s a separate line you call for employer ”support” . . . . they are just awful. Only one person there has ever been helpful and even then his hands were tied with what he was allowed to say. Opting out of the pension by form was also made HELL for EVERYONE. There is no system for tracking these forms, people returned the forms and thought there were being opted out after three weeks only to find deductions still being taken, when they call the workers line, they’re told, ”we never received the form”. Forms seem to go into a black hole that is disguised as a PO Box!

    What’s most annoying, I also have a small Santander pension which JLT solely administrate and the whole transfer has been seamless so far.

    Calling into NOW’s 0330 number is always pleasant in that, my query is understood quickly, I think this is down to the calls being handled by the team at JLT (I asked one of the girls I spoke to last month where they were based and if she worked directly for now and she confirmed to me the location of the office and that she worked for JLT who were the administrators – I had half expected her to lie!) but it becomes very apparent that NOW have kept the message the same to everyone affected – ”you’ll get paid, when you get paid”. Just how awful is that? There’s something really disgusting about that. My advice, get out while you can and any ongoing disputes relating to refunds (they’ll just keep telling you it’s because of the change of administration, which is of course b****cks), just complain (you get a very standard response in a few days then it takes them 4 weeks to tell you ”we’re still looking into your contributions”), hold tight until you receive that pathetic letter then ask to go through to their IDRP, internal complaints procedure. This goes straight to the people at NOW (who can’t be bothered to even get a newer message sent through to JLT TO RELAY TO THE HOARDS OF FED UP AND PISSED OFF PEOPLE), AND YOU SHOULD GET AN UPDATE FROM THERE. Failing that, go through social media (Twitter, Facebook,etc) and let everyone know how useless NOW is. That appeared to work for my old payroll supervisor who was paid within 3 weeks of shaming their shoddy service on Social media……

    Thank me later

    • JIMMY KIRKLAND says:

      Yes. NOW Pensions have done and are doing all of the above to me. They have so far denied receiving my contributions then admitted they have but failed to account for all of them. They claimed I asked to leave the scheme which I never, promised me a refund of all my money then days later sent a letter saying the opposite as by their way of it I had left their scheme. I never even received membership details from them in the first place. A rogue company who should be brought to book. Do not touch with a bargepole. They have never even investigated my numerous complaints. Come on NOW Pensions. Sue me. I can prove all of the above.

      • Silas says:

        Jimmy, I have the benefit here of Employers and employees experience of NOW.

        IF you never received the letter telling you that you were a member of the scheme, it’s because no enrolment date was entered by your company you were working for. If an email had been added to your account, it may have gone to you by email.

        If they have not received your contributions, again, these are submitted as a data file by your company (that said, NOW take AGES to upload contribution data, their systems are older than Jerusalem. It took weeks for Contribution data to feed through). It also depends if your company was previously with Equinity, they may not have sent your contributions over.

        If you did not submit an opt out form or opt out online, you need to get your employer (assuming you still work for them) to call NOW’s pitiful ”employer” line and check who in the hell opted you out – their system opts people out very occasionally. Be warned though, it’s like they all have sh*t for brains / were dropped on their heads as infants. I’m still awaiting a call back from a query I logged in March.

        If you got a leaver letter, chances are again that your employer updated you as a leaver. This letter is automated when you leave / go on sick leave / your company changes your status within the scheme.

        As for the complaints, I just don’t know where to start. Their procedure is awful. Nothing is taken seriously. During my time with NOW, it becomes apparent those logging the complaints are at the mercy of ”the admin team” and their poorly written letters.
        I can actually quote their letters verbatim if I had to right now!

        I’ve touched before on how I’ve screamed at the call centre staff at the ”member” line. (I’m not a beast, I was just very peeved that day and I did apologise profusely to the young lady on the phone, who was understanding but proactive in her response – again, she was another girl whom I spoke with at JLT whilst the ”employer line” staff are all NOW pensions I can only assume (which would make sense, they’re cr*p!) – but don’t quote me on it! .

        Keep your head up son, hopefully, the chaps at Watchdog get involved and your refund will be forthcoming!

  7. Vintage Claret says:

    As an employer my experience has been similar to all of the above.

    The migration from Equiniti has caused them lots of issues which they don’t appear to be able to get on top of.

    They have lost track of where our employees contributions are, what they have and haven’t taken, and aren’t able to resolve it (this has been on going for about 9 – 12 months).

    We are exploring possible replacements as we can’t continue with this poor governance.

    • Silas says:

      I can only say ”hang in there”. Where you CAN get out, please do. Equiniti’s handover was piss poor, yes. But NOW themselves are hopeless – they’re not even financially regulated (hence calling in the poor schmucks at JLT). I, myself am no further forward with MY refund as a member. As an employer, I visit my old place of work from time to time and NOW has become a bit of a running joke. My old boss now tells me they’ve recently added another office to their employer line, so now in addition to waiting 30 minutes for someone to actually answer (call it 27 minutes actually, the first three minutes is some annoying automated voice telling you nothing that has to do with your query), you now have the pleasure of being told that you’ve in fact come through to the overflow line, which considering the original employer line was about as helpful as bringing a dustpan and brush to the aftermath of an earthquake, your chances of having your query answered correctly is now about 30 per cent. They just need to give up already, this clearly isn’t working.

  8. AlanE says:

    I have lost count of the number of times I have received an opt-in/opt-out notification from NOW.
    Statement?? I have JUST received a statement for the year to March 31st 2015 and I understand no contributions were being made for practically the whole of 2015 since the data change over.
    All complaints and letters and correspondence with NOW seems to fall into a black hole, and when I took offence with their continued ‘opt-out’ notices I used a rude word in an email to them.
    NOW then contacted my employer who then tried to take me to disciplinary – despite the fact that the contract is between ME and NOW pensions and the correspondence was entirely and wholly conducted from my own private email account and address.
    I have absolutely zero faith in NOW Pensions…but what is a person supposed to do?

    • Silas says:

      Alan, I’m unsure of where to even start with this! NOW have taken the best part of a year to ”reconcile” data being sent over. So deductions can be taken – as per your employers obligation to the new legislation – but it’s down to NOW to process the data. here are people in NOW literally sitting on data and doing sod all with it. Complaints are sat on for MONTHS until you call and chase. Call agents for employee’s are chastised when they tell their administration colleagues to pull their finger out and get an update out to members. n terms of Complaints, there is one man dealing with them and getting him to respond is a literal joke! Call centre agents are often BARKING at NOW to answer them. It is a sad state of affairs, all of the agents working for them are leaving because they cannot handle the sheer bone idleness of their Administrative colleagues.

    • Silas says:

      Oh, and with regard to the benefit statements, majority of them are incorrect.

  9. Annoyed! says:

    I am in the same boat!

    • Silas says:

      Go on social media and complain, they will ask you to send your details via private message, do this ad tell them you want NOW head office to call you back and NOT someone from their administrators at JLT. NOW have made a name for themselves by shirking their responsibilities. JLT are at their mercy and it’s causing no end of problems. NOW are not willing to see sense where the customers are concerned. Go to the media, something NEEDS to be done. From experience, he who shouts the loudest gets paid their contributions. FCA, Ombudsman, NOW complaints process and the Newspapers, go to them all.

  10. Thomas L says:

    I am trying to get NOW Pensions to transfer my fund as well. They blame data consolidation issues for their showing an incorrect fund value for me. I will be using their Internal Dispute Resolution Process shortly. The Pensions Advisory Service recommended calling their Chief Executive directly to complain. I will take them to small claims court as a last resort if I have to. Does anyone else have experience of taking NOW Pensions to small claims court?

    • Thomas L says:

      (Forgot to subscribe to replies by email.)

      In my opinion, NOW Pensions are in breach of The Pensions Regulator’s code of practice on early leavers and Chapter 5 of Part IV of the Pension Schemes Act 1993, which carries civil penalties (£5000 for individuals), as they have not effected the transfer within a “reasonable period” which the regulator defined as 3 months from giving notice. I know there are lots of other dissatisfied clients and hope the regulator will take action.

      An insider posted this impression of what is going on there:

    • Thomas L says:

      (Please delete my previous comment!)

      In my opinion, NOW Pensions are in breach of The Pensions Regulator’s code of practice on early leavers and Chapter 5 of Part IV of the Pension Schemes Act 1993, which carries civil penalties (£5000 for individuals), as they have not effected the transfer within a “reasonable period” which the regulator defined as 3 months from giving notice. I know there are lots of other dissatisfied clients and hope the regulator will take action.

      An insider posted this impression of what is going on there:

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