Employee Benefits Pensions

SMEs need to review their pension provider

It’s well-known that many of us remain with the same providers for insurance, utilities, mortgages and so on – simply because it’s the easy option. However, in our professional roles, the easy option is not an option and this is particularly relevant if you are responsible for a company pension scheme. Last year a survey of 250 human resources professionals found that two-thirds of them were worried that existing providers were failing to offer enough progressive products for an evolving workforce. In addition, due to auto-enrolment talking to what is essentially a captive audience, it was felt customer service levels from pension providers had undergone a substantial fall due to a lack of motivation to excel.

The good news is that changing pensions provider is no longer the onerous exercise it used to be. Broadstone recognise that SMEs have many demands on their time which is why our experts work with businesses across all sectors to help them find the best option for their scheme and their members. Employers have a legal duty to look after their employees’ interests by enrolling them in suitable, robust pension schemes – and to ensure the schemes continue to perform effectively.

Costs could have reduced

One catalyst for reviewing your pension scheme provider is cost. If you have not reviewed your pension scheme provider for some time you and your employees could be paying over the odds. Over recent years, the pensions market has seen a downturn in management costs and we can advise if your scheme has kept pace and whether its offering good value to you and, of course, to your employees. Review the annual fees you pay along with the range of pension options available and the customer service you receive.

You could start by looking at reviews of the provider on sites such as Trustpilot, review their website to look for award wins and customer testimonials. What does their own sector, the pensions industry say about them – are they leaders in their field? Of course, pensions can be complex which is why many SMEs prefer to work with a pensions expert who can remove that complexity and present solutions in a way that is easy to understand.

Keep member information up to date

Keeping abreast of staff changes is crucial when managing an effective pension scheme.  Your staff’s circumstances will be continually changing and evolving and keeping on top of this is crucial if you want to avoid a major job further down the line and of course, hefty fines! The Pensions Regulator sets out what it expects on every payday – such as assessing the money needed to be paid into the scheme and the age and earnings of staff members who aren’t enrolled in a workplace pension. It also requires SMEs to carry out re-enrolment of certain staff members every three years. Even if you don’t have any staff to re-enrol, you must still complete the relevant paperwork to show you have met your legal duties. Monitoring is crucial.

Today there are many different options available to staff when they retire – are you confident that your scheme covers them all and offers all of the options it should?  You need to be able to demonstrate that your scheme delivers good outcomes to its members and, of course, you and your pension provider should be communicating with members on their options and engaging staff so they appreciate how they can fully exercise all of them.

If you do decide to change your provider, employees are a key stakeholder that must be kept informed of the decision and the reasons behind the move. In addition, the new provider should send all employees a joining pack which should answer all their questions. However, if, as an SME, you don’t have the relevant staff member available to answer their questions, having an external expert on hand is a good idea. Broadstone will be able to help the move go smoothly and reassure any anxious staff.

How confident are you in your governance?

Governance and legislation around pensions gets tighter all the time – how confident are you that you meet all the compliance standards?  The Pension Regulator requires employers to make sure that workplace pensions are monitored regularly and deliver value for money for their members. As an employer, you should regularly review your workplace pension and keep abreast of the options available to you as well as understand what your responsibilities are.

Furthermore, if your employees believe you are offering a pension that is competitive, well run and provides the options they need, they are more likely to feel valued as an employee and engaged with your company and their role. Making a change to a new pensions provider that benefits everyone can be a great way to show staff that you care about their future. Talk to us about how we can help.