In a world of assumptions….An auto enrolment prediction

All of us know that in our profession we need to make a lot of assumptions. We gather plenty of hard facts, we work really hard to truly understand our clients needs but then there is a certain leap.  There are plenty of ‘unknowns’ where we have to make assumptions about to help build their financial plan.

Assumptions are just that and we tend to draw the line at ‘prediction’.  Prediction, especially when there’s a bunch of unknowns, can be a pretty dangerous game.  I usually try to stay on the safe side of that fine line.

However today I want to be bold.  I want to stick my head above the parapet. I want to make a few predictions…

Our business model will change

Over the next 18 months the majority of my new client conversations won’t be about our private client services.  I will  be spending the majority of my time helping companies ensure they comply with the auto enrolment regulations.  However this isn’t a particularly bold statement to kick things off (as you’d hope I’m in control of the direction of my business!).  Let’s move on….

We will being “saying no” as lot

We will, very shortly, have to start saying no to employers who want to engage with us.  Not because of capacity or relationships (although they are factors we intend to keep a very close eye on in the coming months) but because they have simply left it too late for us to get them to comply before their staging date.

“The workplace” will become the “new retail”.  

Whilst previously individuals had access to ‘advice’ through the local branch of their bank (or were sold financial products) this mass distribution channel is now all but finished.  However with a far higher engagement in workplace pensions over the coming two years I believe that the distribution of advice will shift and individuals will be looking for advice in some form provided in their office.

Many professionals will regret not taking more notice

We’re talking to a lot of fellow financial planners and IFA’s at the moment. We’re also talking to loads of accountants and solicitors. What we’re finding is strange. Whilst there are a select few who are getting really engaged with their clients….Auto enrolment for many professionals is being treated like it’s still tomorrows problem.

However when you consider that ever employer who employs over 62 people (or did in April 2012) will need to comply in less than a years time (and thats without talking about the million of smaller employers who will need to comply in the upcoming years) I’d suggest.

If your proposition, regardless of your profession (but this in my opinion mainly impacts accountants, lawyers and those involved in the  financial services sector), includes some form of professional service to business owners you need to be talking to your employer clients and you need to be doing it sooner rather than later.

I’m a business owner and if I wasn’t aware of auto enrolment or I’d heard about it but didn’t realise the impact I’d expect my Accountant, Lawyer and IFA to let me know how the changes impact me and my business and I’d be pretty disappointed if they didn’t!

——————————————–

The interesting thing about predictions is that very often they are quite far off the mark (we see that all the time in our line of business!).  However I’m quite confident that at least some of mine will be true….

* I know that our business model has already changed and will continue.

* Whilst we are engaged with 3 larger employers (who have between 700 and 1500 employees each) with auto enrolment preparation at the moment but had to decline working with a scheme yesterday (with 1500 employees) due to the fact that they had left it too late (they had 1 month to go until they ‘staged’).

* The ‘workplace replaces retail’ and ‘professionals will be caught out’ predictions are more speculative but come from an assumption that individuals will always look for a convenient yet trusted option to seek advice (if this is true…workplace replacing retail fits) and conversations I’ve had with numerous employers (along the lines of ‘my accountant/lawyers/current IFA hasn’t told me about this’).

Now I might be right on all points (if so, I might change my name to NostraDaemsus….sorry bad joke!).  I might be completely wrong. However I’m more interested in what you think….I look forward to hearing from you