More than half of advisers think they could struggle to meet demand from SMEs in relation to auto-enrolment this year, research from Now: Pensions has found.
The mass-market pension scheme polled advisers either currently undertaking auto-enrolment work and those intending to. It found 51% were concerned about their ability to service the increasing volume of SMEs approaching their staging date.
The study also found just over 20% of firms plan to take on new staff to deal specifically with auto-enrolment.
The country's largest employers began complying with auto-enrolment rules in 2012. Requirements then filtered down to medium and small firms. This year the number of companies reaching their staging date will increase significantly, with 30,000 firms staging over a four-month period in mid-2014.
Budge & Company director Terry Barnes commented: "The volume of employees that will hit their staging date at the same time is huge and the reality is that there aren't enough IFAs to assist them.
"This, combined with some employers leaving auto-enrolment to the last minute and providers closing their doors to business, is cause for genuine worry."
The research also found 86% of IFAs believe more and more pension providers will not offer auto-enrolment schemes to SMEs - leaving many firms struggling to find a provider.
Of the 264 advisers questioned, nearly half (47%) are currently advising SMEs on auto enrolment while nearly a third (32%) intend to advise or are considering advising. Just 17% don't intend to advise.
Of those, about 40% said it would not be profitable for them to write auto-enrolment business, while just over a quarter blamed the ensuing "administrative burden".
Morten Nilsson, chief executive of Now: Pensions, (pictured) said: "The majority of advisers see the huge potential that exists within the auto-enrolment market. But, to effectively manage and maximise this opportunity, slick, automated processes are essential to keep administration to a minimum."
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