Ask yourself a question – is the Government changed its mind and stopped the auto-enrolment program at the end of the year – how would you feel?
I expect that there would be a mixed bag of reactions
Outrage from those who have invested heavily in systems and human resource to comply with staging regulations and develop ongoing processes.
Puzzlement from many who had yet to stage but sensed problems down the track.
Delight from those who had done nothing and were contemplating the future with furrowed brow.
I don’t suppose there is the least likelihood that there will be an exemption for those staging in 2016, though this is what one payroll professional body called for at a recent meeting with Government officials.
The reason I say this, was that I was in the room, and I looked at our new pension minister and I did not get the impression the lady was for turning.
But it would be interesting to run a poll on Payroll World to gauge the reaction of the readership!
I think we have passed the Rubicon ,and like Julius Caesar, we know there is no going back now!
A friend, Kate Upcraft has taught me that the investment of my energy in learning the auto-enrolment ropes is worth it. It’s like learning Spanish when you can speak Italian, you know bits, can guess others and have to consult the dictionary (well the Pensions Regulator’s website) for the hard bits.
But learning a language just to have the skill on your CV is a bit daft. There has to be a reason for all the hard work.
Here’s why I think the hard work is worth it
As a pension person, I am passionately committed to retirement saving. I know the importance of doing it properly and have seen the mess that occurs when pensions people take short cuts. If you make a mistake in payroll, you get found out within hours, but it takes years for the damage from bad pension planning comes to light.
Sadly, while payroll mistakes can be rectified , it isn’t quite as easy to sort out a lifetime getting pension decisions wrong.
I was really pleased when auto-enrolment came along as I thought it made sense. I didn’t get that feeling in 2001 when we introduced stakeholder pensions and I didn’t get personal pensions and all that contracting-out malarkey.
The trouble with those pension ideas was that they relied on people taking difficult decisions. With auto-enrolment the most difficult decision is to opt-out! Many people do, but it takes a bit of doing.
My impression of payroll people is that you are conscientious, have a high level of integrity and that you pay attention to detail. I get the impression that you hate being taken for granted (but that this happens a lot).
“If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well” – would be a motto for you lot!
The trouble for you with pensions is that you aren’t sure the outcomes of all this saving will be worth the bother.
This is where we need to work better together. I work with good and bad pensions people. The good people run pensions that I could recommend to my friends and family. They are the pension schemes we rate on our website. I am determined to weed out the bindweed that has strangled good pension practice and we spend our time doing due diligence on all the pension providers offering auto-enrolment.
When we see things going well, we applaud, when things go badly, we say so – even at the risk of legal action (we’ve had that a couple of times). We send out regular surveys to the payroll software providers and many of the larger bureaux asking for their experience of dealing with the major pension providers.
We look at the investment strategies and monitor how they are working, we assess how ready the providers are for the pension freedoms, we look at how much the providers are taking out of members pots and whether they are offering value for money and we assess whether the providers have sustainable service propositions.
In short, we care about the quality of the pension schemes you use as much as you care about the quality of service you provide.
There are many people in pensions who feel this way about the outcomes of what they do. I’ve been doing this for over 30 years and probably will do 15 more! I intend to be accountable for the advice and guidance I’m offering today.
If we work together and all do our jobs – auto-enrolment will be worth doing.