Setting a new benchmark

Staffcare has created a new benchmark in auto-enrolment technology propositions says Ian McKenna, director of the Financial Technology Research Centre

Over the last few years Staffcare has carved out an unparalleled position in the supply of flexible benefits and total reward software to advisers, benefits consultants and employers. The company is now due to launch its software to support auto enrolment at a series of events in May and June.

I was recently given an advance preview of what will be available which amounts to the most impressive auto-enrolment proposition I have come across so far. Delivered in a series of modules it is designed to cover the full range of activities and obligations an employer will need to address.

The first of these provides the user with the ability to analyse existing schemes that a company has in place and to test if the existing schemes meet auto enrolment requirements. This tool can for example recognise the different levels of contribution that might be currently being provided for different members.

It can also address situations where a member is in a scheme which may not meet all new rules but the member wishes to stay in that scheme, or if a member wishes to pay in less than the auto enrolment minimums. In each of these scenarios the individual needs to opt out.

Where a company has a complex scheme on a third party administration platform the service is designed to accept reports from a third party system without the need for manual re-keying. Clearly it is going to be very important to maintain details of all an employer’s scheme in a single place for reporting purposes.

A further tool has been created to assist advisers through the use of decision trees to identify which providers might be most suitable to support a particular employer’s requirements. This analysis is primarily based around the size of the opportunity. If an adviser has a specific approach they apply to the decision process Staffcare can replicate this into the process, to include issues like the number of members, size of transfers and contribution size.

Overall the system delivers an admirable end-to-end proposition from initial assessment, implementation, communication and administration

The new scheme tool also provides assistance in setting up new schemes either through an interface with the pension provider or by the creation of a file to be delivered to Nest in an appropriate format. I understand that Nest is not presently allowing any organisations to deliver straight through processing with them. Ironically I think this is Nest creating more cost for themselves, but it is symptomatic of their inability to listen to people who might be able to help them.

The Member Assessment module can be used to source member data from multiple areas including HR and payroll systems. This is valuable as one system may not have all the dates needed for the auto enrolment assessment process; again this provides very flexible import tools to take data from a wide range of formats.

From the information provided the system can trigger appropriate communications to members, either electronically or on paper. The assessment tool will produce the appropriate documentation for staging date.

Information on postponements can be held at firm, scheme, scheme section or member level. This will pick up all staff who need to be enrolled and as an additional process on a daily basis it can review all non-members to ensure there are no additional reasons why a person may need to be enrolled or re-enrolled, such as a change in salary, hours worked, age following a birthday. This element can be used as either the primary assessment tool or a secondary check if a payroll system has already reviewed this and the employer wants to take a belt and braces approach.

Opt ins and opt outs can also be triggered individually by members should they wish, providing the underlying provider supports such capability. Staffcare’s understanding is that as this is controlled by the individual this is fully compliant with the regulations.

Registration and certification for the Pension Regulator’s processes can be set up by the system and a cost modeller tool enables the adviser of employer to model the cost of contribution to the employer over a five or 10 year period using a wide range of options. This feature should be a valuable tool for advisers to achieve employer engagement

Overall the system delivers an admirable end to end proposition from initial assessment, implementation, communication and administration. In delivering such an extensive service I believe Staffcare is creating a benchmark against which all other auto enrolment propositions could be measured.