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Welcome news on pensions dashboards

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There is near enough universal agreement on the benefits that pensions dashboards can deliver. A pension dashboard is a one-stop digital shop for consumers to access details of their pension savings. The view of many in the industry is that this should have already been up and running. While the government obviously has other issues to contend with at the moment, it’s good to see that the DWP has been able to respond to last year’s consultation and feasibility report relatively quickly.

Government to-do list

Two key components of the success of the dashboard project that rest with the government are confirmed: legislation to compel trustees and providers to make members’ data available to the dashboards; and the availability of State Pension information. It is frustrating, however, that we don’t have clear timescales for either.

Dashboard compulsion will presumably be a strong candidate for the much-anticipated Pensions Bill expected to be unveiled this summer. But all we’re told about State Pension data is that the government is continuing to work towards making this available at the earliest opportunity. With Brexit currently the only game in town for the government, the lack of progress isn’t surprising. But dashboards would make more impact with consumers if State Pension data – a key part of many people’s pension savings – is included.

Phasing-in

So that’s the government’s ‘to-do list,’ but what of the industry? 2019 marks the year things really start moving. The government expects trustees and providers to prepare to provide their data, and to create and test consumer-facing dashboards. This is all perfectly possible, with data cleansing an ongoing priority for pension schemes, and an ABI-led initiative already having successfully developed a working dashboard prototype.

The government has rightly decided to adopt a staging process for scheme participation in dashboards. Most pension schemes are expected to be supplying data within 3 to 4 years of the first public-facing dashboards being introduced. Ideally, the majority of schemes would be making data available in a far shorter timescale but, with the issues some trustees and providers are facing in terms of data quality (particularly in older schemes), such a timescale is understandable. Some large money purchase schemes, including master trusts, are expected to be ready to provide data in the next 12 months. In any event, with the dashboard delivery group still to confirm its data standards, combined with the need for individuals to be able to rely on the data provided, it makes sense to phase in participation.

While it’s taken a long while to get this far, dashboards have the potential to be a big step forward, so let’s not run before we can walk. Pensions dashboards represent a golden opportunity to greatly improve member engagement, with all the benefits that can bring. Let’s make sure we do this right.

 

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