Em­ploy­ers feel duty to of­fer re­tire­ment ad­vice

The Press and Journal (Inverness) - - MONEY -

Em­ploy­ers in­creas­ingly see it as their role to help peo­ple make bet­ter de­ci­sions about re­tire­ment, ac­cord­ing to a ma­jor new sur­vey.

More than half (58%) of com­pa­nies tak­ing part in the study said they would help staff to make more in­formed choices.

And nearly half (42%) were will­ing to pay for pro­fes­sional ad­vice to help work­ers plan, ac­cord­ing to the re­search com­mis­sioned by wealth man­age­ment and em­ployee ben­e­fit spe­cial­ist Mat­ti­oli Woods.

The Mat­ti­oli Woods 2017 Em­ployee Ben­e­fits In­sight re­port in­volved in­ter­views with 300 key de­ci­sion-mak­ers and data gath­ered from 2,692 com­pa­nies across the UK.

Alan Fer­gus­son, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, em­ployee ben­e­fits, in the Aberdeen of­fice of Mat­ti­oli Woods, said: “The mar­ket has never seen so much change.

“We are now near­ing the end of the ini­tial auto-en­rol­ment leg­is­la­tion that started as far back as 2012. With tax­a­tion chang­ing, leg­is­la­tion tar­get­ing higher earn­ers and new ways of sav­ing be­ing launched, it is an ex­cit­ing time.”

The sur­vey re­vealed poor un­der­stand­ing among bosses about fi­nan­cial ed­u­ca­tion for em­ploy­ees, although an over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity (85%) felt it was needed. It also re­in­forced ex­pec­ta­tions of a spike in the num­ber of firms plan­ning to re­view their au­toen­rol­ment ar­range­ments within the next year, with many firms set­ting aside bud­gets for the task.

Two in five em­ploy­ers ex­pected to im­prove ben­e­fit pack­ages for their work­forces, with pop­u­lar­ity and staff sat­is­fac­tion the main drivers.

Only 12% had flex­i­ble sys­tems which use tech­nol­ogy to help man­age and com­mu­ni­cate em­ployee ben­e­fits.

More than 60% of firms felt their ben­e­fit pack­ages rep­re­sented value for money, but fewer than 15% knew whether staff shared the view.

Mr Fer­gus­son said: “Em­ploy­ers in­creas­ingly want to see a re­turn on in­vest­ment around their ben­e­fit spend, and ben­e­fits com­mu­ni­ca­tion must im­prove to as­sist em­ploy­ers in achiev­ing this.

“We be­lieve four key words are at the heart of a good ben­e­fits pack­age – at­tract, re­tain, mo­ti­vate and en­gage.

“Hope­fully, this re­search will al­low com­pa­nies to work to­wards a ben­e­fits strat­egy that de­liv­ers them all.”

Group schemes (49%) were the most widely of­fered pen­sion type among com­pa­nies sur­veyed. Fewer than 4% had de­fined ben­e­fit schemes and less than 3% of­fered self-in­vested per­sonal pen­sions. Nearly half (45%) re­viewed pen­sion ben­e­fits ev­ery one to two years but more than 20% had no for­mal re­views. En­ergy and com­mu­ni­ca­tion poor ser­vice claims from the north­east to Om­buds­man Ser­vices were worth more than £100,000 dur­ing 2016, new fig­ures show.

Om­buds­man Ser­vices, which pro­vides an in­de­pen­dent and im­par­tial means of re­solv­ing dis­putes out­side the courts at no cost to con­sumers, said it re­ceived a to­tal of 793 claims from the re­gion last year. The av­er­age claim was for £134.

Con­sumers in West Aberdeen­shire and Kin­car­dine were the most ac­tive com­plain­ers.

In the High­lands and Is­lands, there were 692 com­plaints av­er­ag­ing £137. Con­sumers in In­ver­ness, Nairn, Bade­noch and Strath­spey were the most ac­tive com­plain­ers, with the Western Isles gen­er­at­ing the fewest com­plaints.

Om­buds­man Ser­vics warned its fig­ures may be the tip of an ice­berg, as 60% of res­i­dents in Scot­land ex­pe­ri­enced en­ergy or com­mu­ni­ca­tions is­sues, but did not com­plain.

Other re­search sug­gests the to­tal amount of com­plaints about all prod­ucts and ser­vices in Scot­land last year could be as high as 5.3mil­lion, but con­sumers still ex­pe­ri­enced more than 8.1mil­lion is­sues which they ig­nored.

The main rea­sons were that it was too much has­sle (45%) or they didn’t want to make a fuss (32%), but th­ese peo­ple could be miss­ing out.

Chief Om­buds­man Lewis Shand Smith said: “It’s im­por­tant that res­i­dents know their con­sumer rights and don’t put up with bad ser­vice.”

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