Sage are a great British success story. Over the past 20 years they have become pre-eminent as a payroll software supplier and latterly a portal for a range of back-office business solutions.
Www.pensionplaypen.com is itself a business customer, using SagePay to collect payments from those choosing a pension.
But – (and you knew there’d be a “but”) – Sage is simply not cutting the mustard when it comes to auto-enrolment …..and it matters.
Sage are going to be the first port of call for many accountants and book-keepers. “Sage Exchange for Accountants & Bookkeepers” is a division of Sage set up to further Sage’s out-reach through training. Sadly much of the site is in need of a technical refresh, not least the section on pension reform which has clearly not been revisited for a couple of years.
“Mutton dressed as lamb” training
I am not being teccy and criticising the Sage auto-enrolment module, which – when I’ve used it – has proved fit for purpose, I’m talking about Sage’s engagement with its customer base and in particular the training it is offering.
If you want to learn about auto-enrolment from Sage, you have two options. Firstly you can sign up to a half day’s training;
For the more expensive classroom module you get
|15 mins||Introduction to Auto Enrolment|
|75 mins||Auto Enrolment Legislation|
|60 Mins||The Pensions Module|
|15 Mins||Questions & Finish|
For the payroll seminar you get
|09:00||Registration, Tea & Coffee|
|09:30||The Pensions Regulator explains what Auto Enrolment is and your responsibilities|
|11:00||Tea & Coffee Break|
|11:15||How can Sage help you with Auto Enrolment|
|12:30||Finish & lunch|
What will you learn?
- Introduction to Auto Enrolment
- Preparing your practice and Sage Payroll for Auto Enrolment
- Assessing your workforce
- Applying pension scheme to eligible employees
- Processing of pensions
- On-going tasks (re-evaluating your workforce, employees opting in/out, pension refunds)
Now before you scurry off to get your credit cards out, let’s have a look at what you weren’t learn.
What won’t you learn?
- Who offers pensions and who’ll offer one to you
- What the different types of pension do
- The way contributions of different types of pensions are taxed
- How to choose the right pension for you
- How to consult with your staff
- How to tell your staff the pension decision you’ve taken
It is shocking to me , that an organisation as big and as talented as Sage is still training its customers to not know so much.
Attendees will come away with a CPD certificate, knowledge of how to use Sage’s software and a general training from the Pension Regulator but without the slightest understanding of what auto-enrolment is really about- providing more money for staff in retirement.
Putting something back?
Sage are leaning heavily on the Pensions Regulator here. TPR is providing people for these training days and payroll seminars free of charge.
So what you are actually getting from Sage is training on how to use their auto-enrolment module (which for those who are not signed up to it – is in effect a sales pitch).
Which means that Sage are simply paying for the hotel and the food. Whether you’re paying £249 or £300 (+VAT) this looks like a pretty good deal for Sage and a pretty poor deal for everyone else.
To my mind, Sage can should be doing a whole lot more here. For six months we have been trying to engage with them over the advisory issues surrounding pensions and we continue to call on Sage to pay some attention to the pension.
Sage are net beneficiaries of auto-enrolment, they are taking the free assistance on offer from tPR, they are taking substantial amounts in fees, they are issuing CPD certificates but they are delivering very little themselves to help employers and agents understand the wider aspects of auto-enrolment.
These seminars are all take and no give!
Our advice to Sage
As mentioned earlier on this blog, auto-enrolment needs more training and less selling. We have secured a grant to provide pension training to payroll agents and directly to employers. What’s more, we’ve chosen to deliver our service to and through payroll software companies of which Sage is by far the biggest.
So Sage is actually looking our gift-horse in the mouth, preferring to say nothing about pensions than include experts on their training roster.
Our advice to Sage is to wake up and smell the coffee. Auto-enrolment is not about the Sage auto-enrolment module, it is about getting 10m employees, 1.8m new employers into workplace pensions.
You are currently offering Hamlet without the Prince. But the Prince is sitting in the audience and will jump on stage. For everyone’s good, let’s get Pensions back into auto-enrolment training and let’s get Sage’s training into a meaningful space!
I am available for meaningful conversations on the pension aspects of auto-enrolment training at firstname.lastname@example.org .