A Look at Automatic Enrollment in the U.S. to Predict the Success in the U.K. and Potential Opportunities for HRO Service Providers

There is currently a global crisis of people failing to save enough funds for their retirement. This reality is faced by those nearing retirement, and it’s affecting millions more. Reasons for this range from a lack of an employer plan to it being too confusing to simply just not getting around to it. In an effort to manage the crisis, legislation has been enacted to facilitate the ease of saving.

 

In the U.K., the primary answer lies in the automatic enrollment (AE) requirement of the Pensions Act of 2008. The AE requirement compels employers to automatically enroll their employees into qualifying pension schemes and to contribute to the pension as well. AE will commence in October 2012 and will be rolled out in stages based on employer size until September 2016 with large organizations (i.e., those with more than 120,000 employees) starting first.

 

Trying to predict the success that AE will have in the U.K. is difficult, but perhaps the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA) in the U.S. can provide some guidance.

 

Recently, Fidelity highlighted the positive impact that the PPA has had on participation rates among other things. Fidelity’s plans that offer AE have increased to 21%, up from 2% in 2006. Furthermore, the AE feature is a part of 63% of plans with more than 50,000 participants, and Fidelity has seen participation increasing as a result of AE.

 

The average participation rate for plans without AE is 55%; but with AE, the participation rate is 82%. More interesting is the effect that AE is having on younger employees, who are typically not too concerned with saving for retirement. For employees between ages 20 and 24 years old, the participation rate for plans with AE is 76% and only 20% for plans without AE.

 

While the PPA in the U.S. does not require AE by all employers, it is proving to be an effective way to encourage participation to actively save for retirement, and it can also provide further opportunities for HRO service providers.

 

In the U.K., for example, Capita has already won business related to the AE requirement of the Pensions Act of 2008. It was awarded a 7 year £105m contract by the U.K. Pension Regulator to support direct communications and transactional processes with employers for AE that began in October 2011. Capita’s responsibilities include:

  • Communicating campaign messages to employers
  • Communicating AE duty dates to employers
  • Ensuring employers register with the regulator
  • Operating a customer contact center
  • Some enforcement activities such as administering compliance notices and penalties for non-compliance.

 

Shortly after Capita’s contract award, Xafinity became the first pension administration provider to launch an AE offering that:

  • Identifies who to automatically enroll and when to enroll them
  • Sets a course of action for all stakeholders
  • Runs financial analysis on different scenarios and take-up rates based on employee data, and selects a strategy that supports corporate objectives
  • Provides AE administrative services including member communications; employee identification; auto-enrolling, opting out, and re-enrolling employees; and reporting.

 

Expect to see more HRO service providers based in the U.K. and others doing business there to launch an AE offering. Some may be late to the game though since the first staging date is less than a year away and compliance can take ~18 months to achieve. It is an area with lots of potential and service providers like Capita and Xafinity are well-poised to gain the first-mover advantage.

 

Amy L. Gurchensky, Research Analyst, HRO, NelsonHall

 

Interested in reading the latest HRO news from NelsonHall? Subscribe to our newsletter by emailing amy.gurchensky@nelson-hall.com with “HRO Insight” as the subject.

 

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