James Walker streamlines pensions for auto-enrolment

EXCLUSIVE: James Walker Group has streamlined its four defined contribution (DC) stakeholder pension schemes into one group personal pension (GPP) plan to comply with auto-enrolment.

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The manufacturing organisation, which has 11 subsidiaries and employs more than 2,000 employees, 900 of whom are based in the UK, has a range of staging dates for auto-enrolment, between 1 November 2013 and 1 October 2014.

The organisation conducted a pensions review in the run-up to auto-enrolment, with consultancy Barnett Waddingham, which produced a scheme report and a market review.

James Walker Group opted to launch the single GPP with provider Legal and General.

The GPP has a lower annual management charge (AMC) than its previous stakeholder pension schemes, as well as a wider range of investment choices.

The AMC is now set between 0.33% to 0.38% a year, in comparison to the previous schemes’ AMCs, which were up to 1%.

Tricia Collins, group company secretary at James Walker Group, said: “We started from scratch and chose the best offering, not just in terms of performance, but fees too.

“Employees will now benefit from a wider range of investments in the new scheme. It has a self-invested personal pension (Sipp) wrapper, which will interest senior employees.”

Staff who are already enrolled in one of the stakeholder pension schemes have the option to carry out a bulk transfer of their accrued fund to the GPP at no extra cost or leave the pot as it is until retirement.

The GPP has two levels of pension contributions: 5% employee and 4% employer or 2% employee and 2% employer. Employees can select which contribution level they wish to take.

“I will be delighted if we get less than 10% [auto-enrolment] opt out,” said Collins.

“We should, because one subsidiary already has 100% of its employees in a pension scheme so they won’t be opting out. Each business has its own culture and is different.

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“The contribution levels set should help take up. We would rather employees be in at some level than no level at all.”

James Walker Group has run a series of roadshows to communicate the change to staff.