The pension troublemaker!


I love the Pension Regulator- they are definitely our most proactive financial services governor. They are fighting the fight on a number of fronts- but chiefly to make auto-enrolment a success.

So when they make an announcement -it’s worth listening and today they’ve come up with a new way to help small employers choose a pension.

You can read all about it here.

The Regulator’s worked out that as companies staging auto-enrolment get smaller, so they are less likely to have chosen a pension and more likely to need help.

We at the Pension PlayPen predicted this tipping point with some accuracy when we devised this graph.


This shows that the increased demand for help in choosing a pension scheme , ramps up from the end of this year as the numbers of employers staging (the humps at the bottom of the chart) increase.

The other line, beginning with the green dot and ending with the red dot represents the amount of conventional support these employers will get from conventional advisers.

At a point around nine months ago, advisers decided that advising on workplace pension selection for auto-enrolment was not cost-effective and started withdrawing. Today, to find an adviser willing to provide advice on this topic is like pulling a hen’s tooth – or even a Henry’s tooth.

But the demand is ramping up and the Regulator knows that something has to be done. The first baby-steps, (and we do baby-steps in the Pension PlayPen) are being taken with this press release. But our toddlers need to sit in the high-chair.

Sending employers off to advisers who have no interest in helping employers choose a workplace pension (and worse little competence) is not an effective solution. The Pensions Regulator’s blind trust in sticking and at the bottom of the page , does not make the advisory issue go away. People need help at an affordable cost!

So 1/10 for the Pension Troublemaker on getting to grips with advice. We are going to have to have words!

But 10/10 for the Pension Troublemaker (PT) stirring up the master trust market. Small master trusts may not like the thought of the Master Trust Assurance Framework, but as my blog today makes clear, the MAF is exactly what they need to subscribe to if they are to show the 1.25 m employers still to stage that they are serious.

5/10 for the PT for giving us some helpful hints about what an employer should look out for from an operational perspective when choosing a scheme

You should carefully consider which scheme is a suitable scheme for you and your staff. Areas you should look at include:

  • whether the scheme can be used for automatic enrolment and will accept all your eligible staff
  • whether the scheme is compatible with your payroll software – ask your payroll software provider for help with this
  • whether the scheme will write to your staff on your behalf to tell them about automatic enrolment
  • whether the scheme will assess your staff for automatic enrolment – if not, ask your payroll software provider if they can do this
  • the costs and charges for you and your staff

But this is only half the story. Employers may be keen on this stuff, and rightly so, but employees are rather more keen to know whether the workplace pension chosen , is going to help them to a decent retirement.

There is a half-useful guide on scheme selection you can download here. It’s half way decent but…

It cannot be said too often, the long-term success of auto-enrolment will derive from the performance of workplace pensions and if employers choose a dud, then they had better be clear that they made a decision which seemed sensible at the time.

Due diligence and an informed choice are absolutely vital if the baby steps aren’t to lead to the naughty step. The Pensions Troublemaker knows this very well and I’m sure we have not heard the last of changes to the “employer choice” pages of their site.

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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