Defining data for dashboards…
Sharing basic data with a centralised dashboard to give individuals a much clearer picture of what they’ll get in retirement. That sounds simple enough. The problem is that schemes and providers have, for too long, ignored the importance of data. What is needed for dashboard shouldn’t be an apocalyptic ask.
Yes – pensions dashboards discussions have been knocking about for too long, with too little progress. But for the first time since the prototype project in 2017, I’m aware of genuine progress. The right people are in (virtual) rooms, meeting regularly. There is regular communication and engagement with the market. There’s a minister who has consistently, publicly stated that this should happen and will be made to happen.
The current open call for input looks at data depth and breadth, with a view to creating the much quoted data standards. This gives those within the industry the opportunity to share insight, ideas and experience to shape the data requirements for pensions dashboards. There will always be anomalies in pensions – historic scheme rules create niche benefit tranches, pension sharing orders are by their nature, totally bespoke. I think this complexity is exactly what the call for input wants the industry to help think about, before it’s too late. The Pensions Dashboards Programme want to get into the nitty gritty of data and identify where there may be difficulties, and work with the industry to deliver a solution. That’s why they launched a call for input. I don’t think this is about coming clean – it’s about working to get to an answer that’s been considered and tested.
There have been numerous industry-wide pats on the back for maintaining operations whilst in lockdown and much talk of continued drive for improvement in whatever a new normal becomes. Digitised, reliable data plays a huge role in being able to improve processes, work differently and create efficiency. Good data isn’t just about dashboard – not even close. The wider impacts and benefits are vast – from calculating accurate liabilities to cost effective, digital member communications.
I know this, because of the schemes and providers I work with, some are really keen to contribute to the dashboard programme. They tend to be the same people and organisations who want to understand how technology advances can help them work more efficiently, or how they can use data to communicate more effectively and reduce premiums on pension risk transfer transactions. They are the forward thinking ones who recognise that this is a step in the right direction.
Pensions dashboards is about members. It’s to help them understand how much they have, trace lost pots and plan for a better retirement. Industry enjoys constant debate and recital on retirement savings gaps, and pensions dashboards is a positive step to help increase understanding and address this. We should recognise this as a positive and look for solutions to the complex data that has been created within our industry.
Making pensions dashboards happen is a change for the better. With a long economic downturn forecast, retirement savings may be needed more than ever to help members through tough times ahead. People who can see all of their retirement savings may well begin to save more as and when they can. Industry stands to benefit too, dashboard will help with small pots, lost pots and assets under management.
Getting fully behind pensions dashboards is the best thing we can do – yes, let’s highlight issues, but let’s also find solutions so the ultimate benefit to members can be realised.