In the past eighteen months, I have had the good fortune of being invited to two auto-enrolment presentations which, if I am an honest, have come about more from my recent move to Oakleaf than my own forward thinking. I appreciate that, as a topic, auto-enrolment may not be at the top of your reading list and I know I am not talking about something new. However, from my experience I thought it was significant to raise the different attitudes I have witnessed towards the topic.
In both presentations I was surprised with the number of people who were thinking of opting out, especially those in the early stage of their career.
Both presentations have been highly informative and allowed me to start thinking about my own and my family’s future in more detail. But for people just starting out in their career, what is the incentive? If you are just starting your career following on from university or from home where your cost of living is no longer subsidised, it is now, rather than the future, which seems more important. If you look at the cost of living in London, a £50 per month contribution payment could have a massive effect on an individual’s disposable income.
Now, I can understand why at this stage of their career it is not considered a necessity, however I think more can be done to focus and help people at the early stages of a career to make sure they are aware of the future ramifications. I would even suggest potentially going one stage further so that people are educated in school.
The presentations have definitely started to make me think about my future - and I can see that there are steps being taken to educate people. I do appreciate the difficulty of getting people to buy in, when it is not a current priority, but I believe that now is the time to educate people at the “grass roots” level and start to invest more in educating people in school in the importance of saving and investing in their own futures.
From a recruitment point of view, here at Oakleaf, the pensions team has seen a huge increase in pensions consulting roles across all regions over the last few months. In particular, there have been a number of adviser roles to assist with different aspects of auto-enrolment. By now, the large and midsized businesses are underway with auto enrolment, having passed their staging dates, however the pressure on the consultancy firms has risen as a wave of SME’s need to implement their processes for AE and manage ongoing compliance matters. Interim project managers have been in demand to support internal payroll teams, but also technical and general advisers to be able to advise clients on the intricacies of the AE process.
Speaking with consultants on a daily basis, they have confirmed there is a real need for advisers who can get out to businesses and talk with employees about the changes in regulations and actual impact on them. We have also witnessed an influx of roles within Defined Benefit (DB) investment consulting to coincide with the shift from DB to Defined Contribution. It is an interesting time in recruitment, as pensions experts are even more in demand than ever before.