TPR fines show firms cannot hide from auto-enrolment any longer, says Premier

05/11/2014

Premier, the corporate benefits and wealth management firm, says the Pension Regulator’s (TPR) recent issuing of fixed penalty fines marks the start of a new phase of regulatory intervention within the pensions industry.

Although hundreds of thousands of smaller businesses are due to stage in 2015 and 2016, many do not have the financial resource to employ specialist consultants to help them meet their auto-enrolment requirements. Furthermore, too many firms are not aware of auto-enrolment, or do not think it is applicable to them.

Ian Gutteridge, Director at Premier, says, “Auto-enrolment is here to stay and firms cannot hide behind the excuse of ignorance.

“Many businesses still believe they can wait until one or two months prior to their staging date before considering what scheme they need to have in place. Complicating the matter further is the fact that many firms believe ‘postponement’ will give them another 3 months’ leeway. In fact, they still need to be ready at their staging date to avoid the risk of receiving fines from TPR.

With a pensions industry already stretched, and a potential advice bottleneck looming, firms should look to speak to advisers offering web-based technology and a range of services which allow businesses to avoid expensive consultancy bills; this will offer the businesses the best chance of having a scheme in place for their staging date.

Premier also has a warning for advisers who portray themselves as experts but deliver poor service. Gutteridge added, "If I were an employer who had spent a lot of money on a service that is not working, I would be pointing the finger at those who helped me.

"We are only a few years into auto-enrolment and already businesses that have auto-enrolled are approaching us to help them undergo scheme audits. In many cases, these larger companies are trying to mitigate against the possibility of fines for schemes that may not stand TPR’s scrutiny.