What is this Pension PlayPen?


When people ask me what I do, I tell them -if they’re in the Pension business- that I am a Director of First Actuarial. If they are not, I tell them I founded a company called Pension PlayPen – to restore confidence in pensions.

There are more than 8000 people in a Linked In group called Pension PlayPen and every week around 5000 people read about 10,000 articles on the Pension PlayPen blog.

But that’s only touching the surface! What I’m about is helping create the conditions for confidence in pensions to be restored. That needs more than words- that needs actions.

This blog is about what Pension PlayPen is doing this very moment to help small employers make informed choices about the workplace pension they offer staff as part of auto-enrolment!

Why we need Pension PlayPen!

We need Pension PlayPen because people are being fed a constant diet of negative stuff about saving for retirement

pensions crisis

negative stuff

And this negativity continues from the very people who should be whooping pensions up

My  monthly update arrived from the Pensions Regulator yesterday. I opened it and found this video

The video lists a number of things an employer “has” to have and “needs” to do to choose a pension.

It promises to provide help in making the choice but at no point in its 65 seconds does it mention anything to do with the member. You would think that the only reason for choosing a pension was to avoid the wrath of the Pensions Regulator.

This video defines the Pension PlayPen by what it is not!

Or to be more positive, it reminds me to remind the 1.5m employers choosing a pension as part of auto-enrolment that workplace pensions are the means to transfer money earned today into money spent tomorrow.

The Pension PlayPen is designed to maximise the efficiency of that process by ensuring that;-

  1. Employers do the right thing by the Pension Regulator (compliance)
  2. Employers do the right thing for themselves (by choosing a Workie that works for them
  3. Employers do the right thing for their staff (by choosing a Workie that delivers in years to come).

The Pensions Regulator’s video promises to make it easy to choose a pension but that promise is broken. Go to their choose a pension webpageGo to their choose a pension webpage and try “find a scheme yourself

This is what you get

Unless you want to use an existing pension scheme for automatic enrolment, you’ll need to find a scheme yourself or get help from your accountant or a financial adviser.

Find a scheme yourself

You should look at different schemes before you decide which is suitable for you and your staff. Some of the options are listed below.

If you have staff who don’t pay income tax, it’s important to check that the scheme uses ‘relief at source’ to add tax relief from the government. You should also know what to look for in a pension scheme – such as whether it will accept all your staff, how much it will cost and whether it will work with your payroll.

Some providers have had their pension schemes independently reviewed, while others are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

The following schemes have said they are open to small employers:

This is simply inadequate to help any employer (whether they know about pensions or not, choose a pension.

The criteria “open to small employers” is meaningless. I could add 20 more Workies that say that, some of which are very good, some utter rubbish.

Employers choosing from this list are buying a pig in a poke. But the price of getting this decision wrong will be paid not by the employer, but by the employer’s staff for decades to come.

The way to restore confidence in pensions

Auto-enrolment has restored confidence in pensions , Pension PlayPen restores confidence in pensions.

We started Pension PlayPen as a way to choose auto-enrolment pensions , more or less when auto-enrolment began back in 2012, we opened for business in November 2013 and since then we’ve helped over 4000 employers choose a pension and twice that number assess their workforce and work out how to set up auto-enrolment.

We have won the confidence of some of the largest payroll software companies in Britain, many accountants use us for all their clients. We are used by IFAs and payroll bureaux and we get a huge number of employers using our system without any help at all.

The cost of getting a fully compliant pension (£199+vat)  is a fraction of what people pay elsewhere. This video, which we produced for Sage (where we are embedded) explains how we go about our work.


Inspiring employers to really help their staff

My hope is that people will start to think like we do at the Pension PlayPen, choosing a pension not because they “have to” or “need to” but because they “want to”.

Providing your staff with a workplace pension which can help them retire in dignity is one of the best bits of being an employer.

We shouldn’t be selling the choice of workplace pension as a chore. We shouldn’t be using NEST because the Government tells us it’s “their scheme”.

We should be engaging our hearts and minds in choosing the most important financial plan some of our staff will ever have.

With Pensions fit for heroes

I have saved all my working life and have amassed what seems a huge amount of money (to me). I am happy to say that I will be able to have a pension when I am 60 of nearly £50,000 a year for the rest of my life. I’ll be getting another £7,500 pa +++ when I get to 67.

I want other people to look forward to their later years with the financial confidence that I do.

I know they won’t get there by saving 1% of band earnings, but it is a start.

If we can build on the platform we have created, millions of people who would have relied on nothing more than state benefits, will have the chance of having a workplace pension that pays out meaningful amounts.

This is the great thing about auto-enrolment. The great thing about auto-enrolment is not the high compliance rates from employers, or the success of payroll integration or even the low opt-out rates (all of which are good).

The great thing about auto-enrolment is that millions of people who weren’t saving for retirement, are saving for retirement. These people are the heroes that make our economy work, they may not be in the news, but they make our country tick.

These people are often no more than “getting by” , but they are now putting money by.

Let’s make sure we provide them with workplace pensions that are worth the sacrifice they are making.


About henry tapper

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