Accountants role: Supporting your clients with pensions
Now in its 9th year, started by the PensionGeeks, Pension Awareness is a campaign dedicated to encouraging people to engage with their pension and be educated on the benefits of financial wellbeing. Dan Donovan, Head of Customer Experience at PensionSync says:
“Pension Awareness week is a great initiative helping individuals to get to grips with the complicated world of pensions - something we’re all for at PensionSync.“
During times of uncertainty, small businesses are faced with a lot of extra work to comply with changes in government regulations and are obliged to give employees a greater sense of security when managing their pensions.
In light of Pensions Awareness week (31 October - 4 November), PensionSync and KeyPay look at how accountants can help their clients better manage employee pensions.
How you can help your clients
As an accountant, if you want to stay legal, comply with professional codes of ethics and keep clients compliant, you should recommend that your clients speak to a specialist adviser who is experienced and insured in pensions.
However, once you take the next step to thoroughly deepen your knowledge in pensions and auto enrolment, you will be in a better position to alert your clients with risk and opportunities and cement your position as a trusted advisor. Here are some of the key areas you can help with:
Navigating detail of auto enrolment
It doesn’t matter what industry your clients are in, they have legal duties for automatic enrolment the day their first staff member begins work. Some may not know everything they need for auto enrolment, so learning and providing more information about automatic enrolment could help improve your clients awareness.
Understanding compliance with pension regulation
Payroll legislation is constantly changing, and pensions remain a major pain point. It’s important to understand the finer pension details and share how they may affect your clients to help them keep on top of their obligations.
Understanding cost implications of pensions
Be prepared for clients who may come to you to understand one-off costs to set up automatic enrolment, as well as the ongoing cost of paying money into the scheme and managing the process.
Helping clients choose the right pension
Since the phasing in of auto enrolment ended in 2018, all existing companies with at least one employee should already have a workplace pension in place. But consider if they are happy with their provider. Is it one that you can manage efficiently for them through your payroll software? Some pension providers have adopted digital technology which not only makes the administration manageable, but boosts employee engagement and helps your clients get maximum value from auto enrolment. Here, it’s important to not recommend a different pension provider to your clients without due diligence and thorough research.
Beyond some of these examples to help your clients, it’s important to also recognise the importance of software when managing pensions and auto enrolment.
Payroll is an essential part of every business, yet its value is often overshadowed by its complexities. With the right payroll software, it should automate all mundane tasks and remove many pension frustrations, freeing up time for you and your clients to focus on tasks that are more valued.
But, what should accountants consider when it comes to payroll software?
Integrate payroll software with pensions
Imagine a world where you and your clients can automate the pension reporting process and eliminate the need for manually exporting pension information using spreadsheets or csv reports.
The best way to set up clients’ employees is to directly sync their pension provider to your payroll software. There are many payroll software providers out there that offer integration with pension schemes, but they should connect with the main pension providers in the UK.
For example, KeyPay integrates with PensionSync to allow an end-to-end payroll and pension journey. This integration allows KeyPay or PensionSync users to connect with pension providers including NEST, Aviva, Now, The People’s Pension, Legal and General and Smart Pension.
Automate auto enrolment
Automatic enrolment (AE) might seem like old news, but many accountants are still facing issues with manual assessment and calculations or having to transfer their data to middleware software and wait for the results to come back. Additionally, managers still have to go back and manually change pension figures after processing the employee’s eligibility status.
It’s important to choose payroll software that allows auto-assessment in real time, meaning that you or your clients don’t have to come back and do the calculations afterward. The software should determine if the employee is eligible at the time of the pay run and automatically do the calculations as the pay run is being processed, not after the fact.
Dan Donovan, Head of Customer Experience at PensionSync says:
“Our one-stop-shop brings the UK’s main pension providers together in a single administration platform, empowering payroll bureaus, bookkeepers and accountants to manage pension Automatic Enrolment effortlessly.
KeyPay’s deep integration with PensionSync means that the software does all the work for you - when you run payroll, payroll runs the pension. There’s not a CSV file in sight and there is no manual work involved, just a secure, accurate transfer of data to your clients’ chosen pension providers.”
Auto enrolment contributions
In its 2017 Auto Enrolment review, DWP proposed a number of changes including enrolling workers from a younger age and removing the low-earnings threshold. There have also been calls to increase the overall minimum contribution rates to ensure employees are building up adequate retirement funds.
Do you and your clients have to currently manually increase the percentages for each employer? A payroll software should allow you and your clients to automatically apply changes to minimum contribution percentages. To avoid missing the date and having to do any manual adjustments, it’s important to source a cloud payroll software that will update these contributions automatically whenever necessary. With KeyPay and PensionSync, you can easily calculate contributions and also specify National Insurance rebate amounts.
Pension opt in/opt out
Data from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) showed 10.4% of newly enrolled employees opted out of their workplace pensions provisions in August 2022, up from 7.6% in January 2020.
Once an employee has been automatically enrolled in a pension scheme, they are entitled to opt out of the scheme during the opt-out period. Does your payroll software allow you and your clients to 'opt out' (and 'opt in') pension data into the pay run automatically for the main auto enrolment pension providers?
With KeyPay and PensionSync, employees can opt in or out of pension schemes and are available for the 6 main auto enrolment providers, with KeyPay automatically capturing and storing the information in the dashboard.
Pension scheme reporting
In the most advanced payroll software, you can manage this without even having to click a button - it automatically happens when you finalise your pay run (along with sending the FPS, your payroll data to your cloud accounting product’s ledger, AE notifications and creating your BACs file).
Now is your chance to help clients where you can
Pension Awareness week is a great opportunity to educate yourself more on auto enrolment and pensions to reinforce your relationship with your clients. Engage with them where you can and consider how you can make their lives a whole lot easier with payroll software such as KeyPay!
Manage pensions with KeyPay and PensionSync
KeyPay is the only true cloud-based payroll provider in the UK that has been specifically designed for accountants, bookkeepers and payroll bureaus. Integrated with PensionSync, users can automate enrolment and contributions, reporting, opt in/opt out, making pensions easy with one source of truth updated in real-time.
With our latest release, KeyPay's integration with PensionSync is now simpler AND more powerful than ever before. Latest features from PensionSync include:
- Flexible File Correction - fix any pension errors without needing to do any payroll rework
- Error Correction Wizard - a guide to fix the most common pension errors
- Coming soon: supporting users with more pension providers, starting with True Potential