The Practitioner: Auto enrolment skills gap looks costly to fill

THE AUTO ENROLMENT situation is developing week-on-week as more and more clients receive letters form the pension regulator requiring them to nominate an approved representative.

My firm has taken the decision to forewarn clients about this by way of a letter or email so they are not over-alarmed on its receipt.

We have also decided to appoint ourselves as the deemed representative for clients, with their approval of course.

It’s more time and money that no one will be willing to pay us for however.

It may just be our bad search techniques but we are finding it extremely difficult to find suitable training for staff on auto-enrolment. I think the route of the problem lies in the fact that it’s a payroll function.

Payroll staff are quite happy and capable doing payroll – but once auto enrolment is mentioned they immediately feel that it is beyond their skillset.

Payroll training dearth

The training we have found so far from the major payroll software houses doesn’t really seem to have tackled this problem yet. It’s going to require up-skilling the entire payroll department, as well as a few senior people. Who is going to pay for this I wonder?

Our financial services team is helpful to a point but seem to blank over when payroll software is mentioned.

If anyone has found the right formula to take this forward in a cost-efficient manner please feel free to pass it on.

Don’t forget that this government has kicked things off by declaring a reduction in red tape and regulation for businesses, both EU- and UK-imposed. As far as I can see auto enrolment is a massive step towards binding us and business in more tape.

Perhaps what will happen is that after months of time invested, costs spent, and staff turnover the government will push back staging dates further, or even declare a dumbed-down version for SMEs.

It’s 50/50 in my book. Place your bets and recoup some of those costs already.

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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