Keeping an eye on what other companies are up to is important.
We are sure you will benefit from this interview with Rebecca Dorrian, an award-winning corporate adviser with Chase de Vere, about the top five issues she is currently discussing with clients. These are:
- Cost saving
- Medical insurance
- Pension compliance
- ESG / sustainability
- Business protection.
Q: The fact that cost saving tops your list won’t surprise many, especially during an economic downturn. But how are you able to help?
A: You’re right. Cost saving and cost control have been the primary preoccupations with corporates for as long as I can remember. We are often able to make significant savings for existing clients by rebroking at renewal, tweaking covers and cutting out overlap. Implementing salary exchange for pensions and other benefits to save on tax and NI can also be key, and it’s the first thing we mention to new clients not already using the approach.
Q: Are you finding companies are still harbouring misconceptions about salary exchange? Incorrect concerns that the government may perceive it as a loophole to clamp down on used to present a barrier but HMRC moved to allay fears about that years ago.
A: To be honest, I’m not finding that much of a problem anymore but there are still other misconceptions. Many companies just aren’t aware of the scale of the potential savings, and some are still unduly worried about time pressures with regard to implementation. They key message is that we can support them through the whole process, removing most of the hassle and assisting with employee comms.
Anyone wanting to learn more about the benefits of salary exchange and about how we can help you can attend our webinar on the subject on March 10th. Click here for more details and to register.
Q: Are there any other cost saving opportunities that you would recommend that companies look into?
A:Yes, it’s definitely worth reviewing the service agreements in place for prospective new clients as we often find that we can provide the same, or higher, levels of service more competitively priced.
Q: You have medical insurance at number two. I imagine that interest has been accelerated by the pandemic?
A: Yes. Companies have never been more worried about the ability of employees to get treatment from a severely overstretched NHS. Where there is an existing medical insurance scheme, we are playing an important comms role in reinforcing key messages to employees about its benefits. But those that don’t have schemes are also becoming increasingly concerned and discussing the matter with us. We are suggesting investing in medical insurance when we have saved clients money in other areas, such as tax savings as a result of salary exchange implementation, pointing out that it can aid recruitment and retention by hugely boosting the appeal of the overall benefits package. Not only that, but medical insurance can help get an employee back to work much more quickly than having to wait for extended periods of time for treatment under the NHS.
Q: What areas of medical insurance cover have been proving most useful during the coronavirus crisis?
A: The development of mental health services by medical insurance providers has been particularly important. Employers are increasingly feeling they have a responsibility for looking after employees’ mental health, and providers are giving them more and more support in this respect. It would be impossible to underestimate the anxiety and stress caused by isolation and financial hardship during lockdown.
Q: Talking about stress. There can’t be many things more stressful for an employer than worrying about a spot check from The Pensions Regulator? Which brings us to your third most commonly discussed issue, pensions compliance.
A: Indeed! Unfortunately, it’ all too easy for businesses of all sizes to come unstuck here if they don’t have their finger on the pulse. But if you have an expert adviser working on your behalf you should have nothing to fear from a compliance perspective. With most clients we conduct reviews every year, looking at issues like governance, employee engagement, the default fund and discussing the need for change. But, when we are talking to potential new clients, we often find they haven’t been having regular reviews. I would suggest that anyone who can’t recall having such a review is probably with the wrong adviser!
Q: It is perhaps a tad surprising to see ESG and sustainability issues featuring anywhere in your top five. Isn’t this area an old chestnut that has bubbled around under the surface for years?
A: Aha! Anyone at the coalface talking to clients regularly like me wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised. There is definite recent momentum here, and I would expect this to feature even higher up the list next year. I wouldn’t say that it has yet become an actual recruitment and retention issue but it is definitely something that employers are increasingly asking about.
Q: Is it a trend being driven primarily by employers or employees?
A: I guess a bit of both really. If a client is in a sector like recycling, where an environmentally responsible outlook is perceived to be especially important, then an ethical default fund is virtually a ‘must have’. But in other sectors a lot of interest is led by employees. That’s why the work we do in communicating employers’ ESG stances to the workforce can be just as important as that we do with helping employers with working out their ethical stances and with choosing the right funds.
Q: Business protection is another subject that seems to have been discussed since time immemorial without it ever really talking off. So, are you surprised it made it onto your list?
A: That’s fair comment, but its presence is probably due at least in part to proactivity on Chase de Vere’s part. It’s something we are putting more onto the agenda at annual review meetings, and we find companies are then happy to listen. A lot are even coming back with further questions. But, point taken! It’s still not something that enough clients are enquiring about off their own backs.
Q: As we are talking about life and health covers here, I imagine the pandemic hasn’t done demand any harm either?
A: Spot on! More companies have certainly been taking out loans during lockdown, and so need loan protection. Succession planning has also been to the fore, as Covid-19 has made people more aware of their own mortality. This has boosted their interest in partnership and shareholder protection to ensure that their share of the business ends up in the right hands should the unthinkable happen.
Content correct at the time of writing and is intended for general information only and should not be construed as advice.