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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

New research from Welplan Pensions, the master trust for small- and medium-sized businesses, reveals a fluid auto-enrolment landscape. Rather than being trapped by inertia, smaller businesses view switching providers as normal practice. With one in two SMEs already having switched provider, a further 49% intend to switch in the future.

Welplan worked with Opinium to question 500 senior decision makers, such as managing directors or heads of finance, at SMEs who use more than 28 different master trust providers in September and October 2018. 

 The research revealed:

  • 54% of respondents have already switched auto-enrolment provider since their original staging date. This was particularly pronounced in medium sized businesses, where 66% have switched, and in construction (67%), business services (70%) and IT (65%).
  • 49% plan to switch provider in future – 20% in the next six months, before employers and employee pension contributions jump from 5% to 8% of salary; 19% in the next 12 months and 10% in over 12 months’ time. Some 38% have no plans to switch −and the rest of respondents do not know.

Welplan also looked in detail at the full range of motives of those decision makers who plan to switch (namely 49% or 245 of the 500 surveyed):

  • 40% cite value for money as a reason for why they plan to switch.
  • 35% cite investment performance.
  • 34% easy transactions.
  • 31% the personal touch.
  • 31% investment choice.
  • 30% customer service.
  • 29% quality of communications for members.

For those who do not plan to switch (38% or 189 respondents), most (70%) are happy with their provider and around a quarter (24%) had not thought about it or were unaware of the option.

Bruce Kirton, chief executive of Welplan Pensions, says: “Business owners want value for money. It’s the main reason why there is such a high level of switching.

“There has been huge focus by master trust providers on cost at the expense of value. This research blows that assumption out of the water: people also want good investment performance and robust systems that streamline administrative challenges.

“Smaller business owners are savvy and well-advised. They know what to look for in their auto-enrolment provider and how to get their needs met.

“Everyone in the pensions industry should now see switching as the norm. Employers want the best for their employees – and that’s exactly how it should be.”

About the research:

Welplan worked with Opinium to survey a representative sample of 500 senior individuals at micro, small and medium-sized businesses with decision making powers over their company’s auto enrolment pensions arrangements.

The fieldwork took place between 24 September and 2 October 2018

The figures and percentages cited in this document are based on meaningful responses – and none refers to a sample size of less than 50.