Jamie Jenkins, one of the three chairs of the DWP external advisory group of the AE review, speaks to Kim Kaveh about its key themes.
Automatic enrolment (AE) has brought over eight million employees into a workplace pension since its roots were planted five years ago.
As it continues to bear fruit, and the final small and micro-employers begin to stage, the government is set to fulfil one of its statutory obligations by the end of the year - the AE review.
The review will consider the success of AE to date, explore ways in which the policy can be further developed, and then publish its findings before Christmas.
Standard Life Aberdeen head of pension strategy Jamie Jenkins plays a very important part in this - advising on coverage - one of three themes which will be considered.
This essentially involves getting those who are not currently contributing to a pension brought into AE.
Despite having spent 25 years in financial services, Jenkins says looking at the elements of coverage has been ‘challenging,' as there are no easy answers to the issues raised, or an absolute consensus.
One of the primary issues was the lack of self-employed workers enrolled in pensions, explains Jenkins.
"We haven't concluded on the self-employed crisis yet, though we have had a wide variety of inputs. Recommendations on this will be in the final report of the AE review."
Nonetheless, there are difficulties which must be faced to get the UK's self-employed population on track to climb the retirement savings ladder.
Jenkins reiterates this: "What we've learned, or one of the fairly profound findings, is the sheer diversity of the self-employed population, as the way pensions are operated is very different in these people.
"They don't have PAYE, or the systematic approach employees have, and the diversity of that population is quite stark. Therefore, it doesn't point to an easy, single solution for all of them."
Jenkins also comments on contribution rates, one of the other themes which will be explored in the review, a workstram being led by Pensions Policy Institute director Chris Curry.
Jenkins comments that what was said at the outset of the consultation was there would not be any firm changes made to what has already been decided, but options will be looked at.
He says: "Up until this point, it was about getting everybody involved in saving. It wasn't about the adequate level of contribution.
"The next couple of years of course, is about getting people from a minimum of 2% to 5%. That's the next big challenge and we can't assume that's done and dusted.
"We've got to get through that and make sure we don't see huge opt-out rates."
However, he points out there is still a debate to be had:"We need to decide if it continues to go upward from 5%, or if it becomes a function of choice for people, and becomes discretionary, instead of mandatory."
Jenkins did not comment on potential outcomes from the review for the engagement element, which is being led by PTL non-executive chairman Ruston Smith. He did however, voice his own opinions on the matter.
For people 10 to 15 years away from retirement, he suggests statements and annual summaries should be clearer, with easier language, while adopting the use of technology for Generation Y.
He adds: "If you look a bit further forward for people being born today, and coming to the world of work in 15 to 20 years, they will have an absolute expectation of nothing but technology.
"They would be surprised at the notion that you'd ever get a piece of paper or have to sign anything."
Although various policy changes based on the three elements will be considered in the AE review, Jenkins admits there is still going to be a savings gap.
"We can't get everyone saving enough overnight, and a number of people will still reach retirement before they have adequately saved.
"That's just a fact so we have to live with that consequence."
Furthermore, as the government is in the midst of sealing the fate of the post-Brexit world, Jenkins sates it is going to use a lot of capacity. However, he adds this will not undermine delivering the review by the end of the year.
"Depending on those recommendations, the government can then consider how they fit AE in.
"We've still got to run the country and there's still a number of priorities we need to focus on. Undoubtedly, Brexit is using up resources but it doesn't bring us to a standstill."
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