Kelly, who works in my office, is vital in helping me ensure our employer clients comply with their new employer duties (which happen to include auto-enrolment).
That’s no great surprise in itself, but the thing that shocks most people is that although she is one of the most important people in my team when it comes to helping firms comply, she knows very little about pensions.
Don’t get me wrong, she knows what a pension is and some of the basic rules around how saving for retirement works but would currently be unable to tell you much more (although this might change shortly as she’s currently studying for her first tranche of exams).
But this lack of pension knowledge is currently a good thing. There are a couple reasons for this:
1. Her focus isn’t immediately on the pension shell but on helping the employer meet their obligations
We’re currently seeing a lot of advisers stress out about the ‘pension shell’ when in actual fact getting access to an ‘automatic enrolment’ compliant pension scheme is the easiest part of the job.
2. I want her to focus on what she’s great at
I’ve never seen anyone work their way around a spreadsheet like Kelly. She knows all the shortcuts, has shown me formulas I didn’t know even existed and understands ‘how to mine’.
Yep, it wasn’t a typo. Kelly is great at mining. Not coal or diamonds, but data.
All of the advisory firms who have already staged employers understand that while the pension shell plays a part in the automatic enrolment solution, the employer, who is paying for our professional advice, wants to comply with the regulation.
This means ensuring that processes are in place including the ability to communicate with a whole host of different people (including the Pensions Regulator and the employees of the business), categorise employees, opt people in, opt people out and on a regularly recurring basis review the data to ensure that nothing changes.
There’s an assumption that once the pension shell is in place the job is done. But in reality when it comes to auto enrolment that’s when the job starts.
While a lot of the work involved in helping employers comply can be fully systemised, the technology you can use to assist with helping employers comply only works when the data inputted is correct.
That’s why Kelly is an invaluable part of the team. Her pension knowledge might not be great. But with auto-enrolment only marginally about pensions and more about data her aptitude with a spreadsheet means she’s well suited to the job.