The Practitioner: Auto-enrolment is a right pain in the pension

IT’S A BUSY TIME in the office as another tax year-end has drawn to a close.
We are starting to think about P11d returns and looking to complete as many personal tax returns as soon as we can.

In truth the payroll year-end routine is now a lot less onerous than it used to be, with P35s no longer being required to be submitted.

We have RTI to thank for that at least.

I suspect that next tax year-end won’t be quite so simple given the fact that many of our clients face auto enrolment staging dates later this calendar year.

To be very honest with you the jury is out on auto enrolment so far within the practice. A few of our larger clients have been on board for the past 12 months, and it has been nothing short of a disaster on several fronts.

AE billing nightmare

The first thing to say is that we haven’t reached a decision on a suitable way to bill the client. So far, the only invoice auto enrolment-related, is a recharge for the software payroll add-on required.

Now this may appear foolish but to be brutally honest we haven’t wanted to upset the clients, and at the time of initially setting up AE we weren’t aware of the amount of work that has been involved.

We engaged our financial services sister company to help with initial meetings between the clients and ourselves. After all it’s all to do with pensions isn’t it? But I think that’s where the confusion over billing began.

The answer to who should be billing the client; us or the FS company, wasn’t clear. Especially given the fact that the AE company dealing with collecting the contributions is imposing a monthly charge per employee.

On the advice of the FS company we engaged a certain Scandinavian-based provider who has dealt with auto enrolment in Australia for years. But you won’t believe the trouble we have had with them.

Outsourcer problems

Our experiences have been so bad that we actually ended up receiving a personal apology from the CEO.

They are still six months behind in collecting the actual pension contributions via direct debit from our largest client.

I’ve kept myself largely out of this mess as much as has been possible, but I must say I am slightly apprehensive as to what will happen once more and more clients get on board.

We could be heading for an auto disaster, with no one to foot the bill…

The Practitioner’s uncensored thoughts come from within their own practice – having left a regional firm in the heart of England

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