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A quarter of employers don’t know that Auto Enrolment contributions are increasing

Did you know? More than a quarter of senior business decision makers are unaware that auto-enrolment minimum contributions are increasing on 6 April. Also, almost half do not know how much they are increasing, according to research.

Read the whole Corporate Adviser article here.

Why not also take a look at the important things you should know about the increase.

Protecting Defined Benefits Pension Schemes

The much-anticipated white paper, titled Protecting Defined Benefits Benefits Schemes is here. The Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) said it would work to improve “the effectiveness and efficiency” of the Pension Regulator’s existing anti-avoidance powers while ensuring they do not have “an adverse effect on legitimate business activity and the wider economy”.

This will include strengthening the watchdog’s information-gathering powers, “supported by penalties to drive co-operation”, such as requiring attendance at interviews, civil sanctions for non-compliance with section 72 notices – adding to existing criminal sanctions – and inspection powers, “harmonising powers” it already has for auto-enrolment and master trust schemes.

However, former Pensions Minister Steve Webb says the proposals lack teeth, with convictions likely to be difficult to achieve.  He and other industry analysts have criticised the proposed pace of legislative reform.  The TUC has described the paper as a missed opportunity to protect pensions.  The Association of Consulting Actuaries has criticised the White Paper for not doing anything to help employers struggling with heavy DB burdens.  But other industry figures have welcomed the extra powers that the proposed legislation will create.

Take a look at our other blogs on industry news:

Our very own Ann Woolfe will be competing in the London Marathon for the very first time on Sunday 22nd April.

Having had brain surgery herself, Woolfe has opted to support Brain Research UK (formerly the Brain Research Trust).

Ann Woolfe

 

Please support Ann by visiting her Virgin Money Giving page.

 

Is the Financial Ombudsman trying to catch us out on Defined Benefit transfers?

A great article by Nick Bamford. It highlights the issues advisers face when helping members with potential transfers out of their defined benefit (final salary) pension schemes. He explores whether the Financial Ombudsman trying to catch people out or not.

Check out another blog from Corinthian on Defined Benefits.

Time to celebrate! We won the ‘Mark of Excellence’ for Client Experience.

Corinthian Benefits are delighted to announce that they have been awarded the Mark of Excellence for Client Experience by the independent assessment organisation CX Awards Limited.

The Mark of Excellence is awarded following an in-depth assessment of the Client Experience focused on the following three topic areas:

  • How easy is it for clients to deal with the company?
  • How satisfied are they with what the company does for them?
  • Do they trust the company enough to keep using them?

The assessment process covered the perception of clients and staff captured by online questionnaires. The response rate from clients was almost one in three – far higher than the average for client experience surveys. This means the results can be taken as fully representative.

All questions are scored out of 10 and the overall unweighted score from all respondents was 8.40. This is an excellent score for surveys of this nature and size.  The average from clients was 8.17 and staff averaged 8.63.

Neil Craig, director of CX Awards commented.

“Corinthian recorded very high scores across the board. This reflects the fact that clients find them a pleasure to deal with, appreciate the support they get and invariably are very keen to keep using them.”

“Clients acknowledge Corinthian has a dedicated and professional team who are determined to make sure they serve their clients to the very best of their ability.  This is echoed by staff scores and comments. Management has fostered a very positive working environment which clearly has led directly to a positive client experience.”

Respondents were also asked for written feedback about Corinthian and the following comments are typical:

From my experience, the people I have met/contacted have been so knowledgeable and helpful.  It’s nice to be able to go to the implementation team and have anyone deal with the query rather than waiting for a specific person to be available.

They are super friendly and helpful.  Corinthian is not a pushy company and that would be something that would put me off using any company.

Neil Craig added, “The key points coming from the staff feedback are that they feel that the business is strongly client focused and they really enjoy working at Corinthian – the perfect recipe for business success”.

As one staff member said:

“In terms of client management, we always work as hard as we can to ensure positive results. It is encouraged and embedded within the staff mentality.”

Director Lee French commented.

“We’re delighted to have received this award for the second time from an independent organisation, after receiving such positive survey feedback from both our clients and staff. Corinthian is committed to delivering an exceptional level of service to our clients in a friendly, yet professional, manner. The key to achieving this is working hard to make sure clients feel valued and happy in what they do”.

We will be at Kent Vision Live

We are once again exhibiting at Kent Vision LIVE and hope to defend our most innovative stand trophy that we won last year.

Click here to register for your free place and we’ll see you there! Or contact us now if you aren’t able to make it.

Pension Regulator’s recent Quarterly Compliance and Enforcement bulletin

The Pensions Regulator’s most recent Quarterly Compliance and Enforcement bulletin covers October to December 2017. It shows that the number of Compliance Notices issued during the period was 17,949. This is an increase of 29% on the total amount issued since October 2012.  The number of Fixed Penalty Notices of £400 for failure to comply with a statutory notice was also up 30%. While Escalating Penalty Notices of between £50 and £10,000 per day were up 27%.

The Pensions Regulator’s not playing games, auto-enrolment is not an option, it is the law.  If you refuse to become compliant you could end up with a criminal record.

In November 2017, MD Alan Stott of Stotts Tours bus company discovered this. They plead guilty to 16 offences of willful non-compliance with their auto-enrolment duties.  On 7th February 2018, they were fined £27,000, plus £7,400 costs and a £120 victim surcharge.  Alan Stott was also personally ordered to pay a £4,455 fine and a £120 victim surcharge.  This is in addition to £14,400 civil fines the employer owes for failing to comply with auto-enrolment laws.

 

 

Why risk the fines? Did you know that declaration of compliance is not the end?

A recent survey revealed 57% of family businesses would cease trading within a year, and 1/4 would close immediately following the loss of a key person. Fewer than half of SMEs having any sort of succession plan in place. So it’s more important now than ever to understand your options when it comes to Business Protection.

As every business owner or manager will know, you can’t plan for everything. However, you can make provisions to ensure that you and your company are protected should the worst happen.

From Key Man insurance to Shareholder Protection, there are so many facets to Business Protection, it’s easy to get lost. So here’s a quick rundown to help you to decide if they’re right for you.

First things first, what is Business Protection?

In a nutshell, Business Protection is a means of protecting your company against the unexpected. Whether your e-commerce platform undergoes a cyber attack or if a key member of your team is forced to take a leave of absence, this insurance policy ensures your core business is safeguarded against any eventuality.

Business Protection encompasses many things, which may or may not be applicable to the nature of what you do. It’s therefore important to get the right advice, from a qualified consultant like Corinthian, before you take out any policies.

Is it right for me?

It is estimated that only 2% of SMEs have Business Protection insurance which is a worrying statistic.

You protect your car, your equipment and your building, but what about your business? If you are a shareholder, the business may also be your way of funding retirement for you and your family.

Before you read on any further, ask yourself the following:

•    Could your business survive the loss of a key employee or shareholder?
•    Would you be able to buy out their share in the business?
•    If you were a shareholder when you died, would your dependents get a fair price?
•    Could a competitor buy into the business?
•    Could your credit terms worsen?
•    Would clients take longer to pay causing cash flow problems?
•    Would profits fall?
•    Could key relationships be lost?
•    Could the business cope if secured loans are recalled?
•    Would employees become unsettled and leave?

A Business Protection policy will essentially future-proof your company. So no matter how large or small you are, some kind of protection for your business is an essential commodity.

Also, once approved, if your company were to ever close down, you can transfer your policy to your new business.

Speak to Corinthian about protecting your business

What is Key Man insurance?

Key Man insurance is also known as Key Person insurance. It offers you a lump sum or a regular monthly income should a key member of your team need to take a sabbatical from work due to illness.

Why would I need this? This is one of the most popular types of Business Protection – and for good reason. Skilled work isn’t easily transferable to another member of staff. So if a key person did need to take a leave of absence, it might be harder than you think to find a replacement.

How will it help my business? Key Person insurance would safeguard any profit loss incurred during this period and could help to fund the replacement of this key individual. It would also assure your employees and customers alike that your business will be largely unaffected by the period of change.

With any form of Business Protection, you can decide whether you also wish to have cover should poor health prevent the individual from working. The chances of an individual becoming incapacitated can be 3 times greater than death. So covering Critical Illness needs some serious consideration, as the impact to the business could be the same.

What is Shareholder Protection?

In a nutshell, Shareholder Protection insurance will help you to keep control of your business in the event of a shareholder or business partners’ death.

Why would I need this? If you co-own your business, this is almost certainly something that you should consider. In the event of a business partner or shareholder’s death, shares in your business would automatically go to their next of kin, who may want to take an instrumental role in how your business is run.

How will it help my business? A Shareholder Protection policy ensures that the shares remain inside the business and instead, a lump sum is given to the next of kin.

What is Loan Protection?

If your business has a loan secured by an individual – such as a director – who then dies, that loan is likely to become payable straight away. Loan Protection will safeguard you against such an outcome, giving you a lump sum to use to pay off the remainder of the loan balance upon this key person’s death.

Why would I need this? With all the other impacts following the death of the individual who will most likely also be a key person, shareholder or both, trying to find the funds to repay the loan from existing resources will be a challenge for any business. The loan itself could be secured against their residential property and the implications for their family could be severe.

How will it help my business? Loan Protection will give peace of mind both to the business and to dependents. Should the unthinkable happen, you will all be covered.

So, how can I arrange Business Protection for my company?

Your best course of action would be to get in touch with an employee benefits consultancy, like Corinthian, who will talk you through your options for business protection.

Corinthian offers a fully-comprehensive service, covering all aspects of your Business Protection policy. Speak to a Corinthian advisor today and we’ll help you to decide:

•    What form of Business Protection is most important?
•    What level of Business Protection cover is needed?
•    How should it be structured?
•    What documentation is needed and how to complete it?
•    Which providers are most competitive and easiest to deal with?
•    Should a payment also be made on their incapacity or critical illness, not just on death?

Corinthian offers an on-going support package too. We’ll review the cover as your company’s needs change.

To find out more about what business protection your company should have, speak to a Corinthian advisor.