Advisers critical of providers’ AE approach

Just 8 per cent of advisers believe pension providers have effectively managed demand for auto enrolment services so far this year while over two thirds – 68 per cent - claim that some have managed while others haven’t.

Research conducted by independent financial researcher Defaqto on behalf of Now: Pensions also found an overwhelming 93 per cent of advisers say pension providers are cherry picking auto enrolment business.

Of the 244 advisers questioned by Defaqto 58 per cent felt providers’ systems are not as efficient as they should be, while 55 per cent found providers are changing their acceptance criteria.          

It also found 49 per cent of advisers see increasing volumes causing service delays and 47 per cent detecting providers withdrawing from the market.

A lack of effective communication between payroll and pension providers was seen as an issue for 47 per cent, while 37 per cent said providers’ telephone support was not as efficient as it should be.

Over half of advisers – 55 per cent – said they lack confidence in providers’ ability to handle the demand for auto enrolment services next year. The main reasons given were that volumes are so huge it will be virtually impossible to effectively manage it and the predicted withdrawal of increasing numbers of providers from the market would put increased pressure on remaining players.

Now: Pensions CEO Morten Nilsson says: “As we go into 2015, the problem of “cherry picking” will worsen as fewer providers actively participate in auto enrolment. But, we remain committed to accepting all employers regardless of size on equal terms.

“To keep pace with growing demand, we’ve invested heavily in new online systems. But, as the market evolves we’ve remained responsive to feedback from clients, intermediaries and payroll providers and are introducing a number of improvements to our systems and service.

“In recent months we have increased the size of our client support team five-fold and average call waiting times for clients and advisers needing help are now less than 30 seconds.”