One scheme return a year

October saw TPR shining the spotlight on hundreds of pension schemes and trustees, ordering them to urgently review the data they hold. Almost a quarter of the schemes they analysed did not meet the minimum standard of data quality and record keeping. Frightening, considering trustees make important investment and funding decisions largely based on the data held by their administrator.

All schemes and trustees must carry out regular data reviews

That’s one scheme return a year for DB schemes, public service schemes and DC schemes (including Master Trusts) with more than twelve members. Pension scheme data has a long shelf life and subject to significant change on a continuous basis. TPR rules around record keeping for pension schemes and Solvency II compliance for insurers require data quality improvement plans to be put in place where data doesn’t meet the required standard.

Your data is likely your largest non-financial asset

Data reviews aren’t a one-off, tick-box report card. Don’t accept those standard, commoditised reviews that provide little strategic value. It’s less likely that schemes will face enforcement action when trustees are able to prove they have realistic plans in place to rectify data issues. Administrators and system providers can sometimes explain discrepancies or quirks because it makes sense to them, or because they know the reason they exist.  This is valuable knowledge, but it can also hide significant issues that will later become expensive surprises. Trustees, advisers and administrators should work together when it comes to undertaking data quality reviews, and there are specialist consultants which can tailor strategic tests and plans for your scheme.

By assessing and improving on your data quality, you can ensure that it’s fit for your next challenge. Data quality isn’t just about compliance, if you get it right it can save you money, improve member experience and reduce risk.