Small and micro employers with a lack of confidence in dealing with auto-enrolment need more intermediary support in 2015, new research from National Employment Savings Trust has found.
In a study, NEST polled 300 SMEs and found that only 23% of them were 'confident' about dealing with pensions issues, while only 26% currently offered them.
Publishing its report, Small and perfectly informed? NEST examined how SME employers manage their business processes, as they are set to stage in 2015. From next year, 45,000 SMEs will come under the new workplace pension duties and need to set-up and enrol most of their workers in a retirement scheme.
It found that a majority of SMEs did not currently have pension processes in place in-house, with only 17% having this skill-set based in the business.
NEST believes the issue of 'low level of confidence and existing pension provisions' mean there will be serious demands and opportunity in the intermediary sector.
The study shows that three-quarters (74%) want support from intermediaries such as independent financial advisers (IFAs), accountants or payroll providers.
On top of this, the firms expect support from the outset, with many expecting help as soon as they start preparations. Many also require ongoing support, with three-fifths (60%) expecting help with administration on an ongoing basis.
The report concluded: 'Employers may find that the skills they need to implement automatic enrolment are not so different from skills they use today in other businesses processes.
'However, it's critical that employers hold up-to-date and comprehensive data about their workers, including things like: date of birth, national insurance number, home and email addresses and details of each worker's pay.'
Auto-enrolment requires employers to check the eligibility of their workers every pay period and make adjustments to their contributions based on the outcomes of these assessments, said NEST.
NEST suggested that SMEs talk to their payroll provider ahead of their staging date to help them implement auto-enrolment successfully.
NEST chief executive Tim Jones said: 'This research clearly shows that 2015 employers want help. With 74% of small and micro employers wanting support, around 33,000 employers are going to be keeping the intermediary community very busy in 2015.'