Standard Life has teamed up with Barnett Waddingham to launch a 'consultancy light' auto enrolment (AE) solution for small and medium sized businesses.
The firms have targeted their packaged solution to the estimated 30,000 SMEs that are required by law to enrol their workforce in the next 18 months.
Presenting the new solution on Thursday, Standard Life head of workplace strategy Jamie Jenkins said designing innovative new propositions was important to target the smaller firms that could not afford an old fashioned standard solution.
AE will see around 850,000 SME employers enrol their workforce by 2017, up from around 30,000 in 2014, he said.
Jenkins said: "The new world is different. It's not worse, it's just different in the sense that we are several months into the scheme with employers who typically don't have the HR departments, personell, pension staff and all sorts of resources that large employers have, and in many cases they don't have an existing scheme and didn't really (intend to) set up a scheme, they are doing it to comply."
He added that employers in these situations wanted affordable solutions that were simple to access, well thought through and offered value for money.
Small firms, unlike their larger counterparts, often don't benefit from large HR, payroll and compliance teams, so they can not afford to take on solutions that are complicated.
However, large players have been slow in responding to SMEs' needs and are or delivering propositions that are either too basic on the administration side or "feel like they have been made by Blue Peter presenters", said Shepherd Bush Housing Group director of business support, Phil Day, who also spoke at the product launch.
Others, that offer to build more targeted solutions, are so expensive they price themselves out of reach for small firms, the panel agreed.
To cater for the need of the SME market, Standard Life and Barnett Waddingham said their solution will be easy to implement and at a low cost.
It will also offer competitive charges, made possible by partnering early with Standard and and Barnett Waddingham's dominant position in the market, the providers said.
In addition, the providers will support small businesses in engaging their workforce to save for their future, which was important for both employees and firms, said Barnett Waddingham head of employee benefits Damian Stancombe.
If providers failed to ensure their employees had enough money to retire on, then a ‘retirement traffic jam', in that increased numbers of people will not be able to retire, could become a reality, he warned.
"(Retirement) is 35-40 years away from people; they can not connect to that, they don't see value, so when we partnered with Standard Life it was about creating a more holistic approach to saving, get them thinking about debt, get them thinking about today.
"The education issue is the most important here, it's not just about the pensions issue. (Through) this whole concept that if we can create a value benefit in the workplace, which is a pension, employees will contribute more. And if they do, they are solving a corporate problem. If they don't, they won't retire and this retirement traffic jam will become reality."
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