Robert Cochran, pensions expert at Scottish Widows,
Talk to me
"Your first task is to get an employer to realise just how big a deal AE is for them. Initially, they may think it's little different from setting up a pension plan, but it's about enacting complex legislation and complying with new rules; the pension plan is a small part of that process.
"I went to see an employer whose first words were, ‘I don't see what a big deal this whole auto-enrolment is'. We showed her that TPR's project plan started 18 months prior to staging (she was four months away) and its fines table (with more than 1,000 employees, the fines were potentially £10,000 per day). She said, ‘Alright Robert, you have got my attention.'"
Who's doing what?
"This needs to be sorted out early. Anyone who has seen a scheme through to staging will tell you one of the big differences with AE is the sheer number of parties involved - employer, human resources (HR), finance, payroll... Once the relevant parties have been identified, the responsibilities need to be allocated based on who is best for what. This can be done based on the following: capacity, authority, ability, cost."
Auto-enrolment: How to get employers' attention (and what to do next)
"Every provider has a different measure to assess the attractiveness of their scheme. Getting commercials agreed early will mean the options open to an employer are accurate.
"Many employers think they can simply use their existing scheme to fulfil their AE duties but, if the auto-enrolment population is different from the existing population, this will not always be the case.
"Take this example from catering: many schemes have been set up for the management of hotels, but they haven't been offered to the waiting, house cleaning or kitchen staff. One population is, typically, committed to a career in catering, the other might be on a gap year. They are likely to be viewed differently by the incumbent provider. It may mean a two-scheme solution."
Show me the numbers
"AE is a data management exercise. Some data will be held in payroll, some in HR systems, some externally, while some of it will be brand new. The provision of accurate, consistent data is the key to success here."
The early bird...
"The TPR timeline starts 18 months prior to staging date. The employer will receive a letter from TPR at least 12 months before staging. Employers need to start acting at these early points if they want a solution that works for their staff, rather than be forced to go to anybody who will take them at the last minute."
Slendebroek CEO since 2014
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