Don’t wait for the iron fist

Mar 15, 2020

Your data needs to be dashboard ready - now!

Guy Opperman has warned of draconian penalties for not being data ready for dashboard. So, just how hard is it to be data ready?

Well, we still haven’t had the data standards from MaPS – which is proving a useful get out of jail card being played by some across the industry.

Data and good record keeping are vital to running a scheme effectively and The Pensions Regulator requires trustees and scheme managers to review their common and scheme-specific data once a year.  But, for too long data has been seen as a necessary evil, a tick box, an also-ran or an additional cost. It’s so much more than that. Alongside the Pensions Minister’s dashboard drive – good quality data is critical to:

  • Basic functionality – be it record keeping requirements, producing annual statements or simply paying the right benefit to the right member at the right time – data is key.
  • Automation – in the current climate, the more administrative work that can be done with reduced reliance on the location of certain key people can only be positive.
  • De-risking – whether it’s knowing if dependant details are accurate or the liabilities calculated on correct date of births; the goal is to maximise the efficiency of any exercise – the enabler is data.
  • GMP – reconciliation, rectification or equalisation – data is the linchpin. We are finally seeing industry ‘experts’ admitting that this is an issue with a solution rooted in data, not actuarial calculations.
  • Creating efficiencies – whether it’s understanding your membership, predicting trends for retirement options or migrating to a new platform – data is the foundation for the future.

So what should you do to avoid Mr Opperman’s draconian penalties?

Start by directly focusing on data – give someone the responsibility to create a data improvement plan, that should look like this:

  1. Set your data objectives to achieve the outcomes you need, and then set the timescale that you will work towards.
  2. Define what you need to do to achieve the outcomes. This may seem obvious, but it’s not simple. Often, a false starting point is what causes a plan to fail.
  3. Prioritise what you want to achieve – write it down, share it, make people responsible for making it happen.
  4. Work out how you will resource your plan – what will your administrator do, what can you do, what do you need help with?
  5. Be aware of any dependencies – what will their impact be? How do you work with them?
  6. Set KPIs and report on them regularly – in the same way that you do other key objectives.

You don’t need to wait for MaPS to start this, or the iron fist of compulsion.

Guy Opperman wants to revolutionise the pension industry and make the UK the best place in the world to retire… we need innovation and a commitment to change to achieve this, not more of what we’ve always done.  Even if you don’t buy into the revolution – slightly more automation, smoother processes, and less errors and omissions wouldn’t be bad, would it?

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