“I didn’t know I wanted this, till I came here – I do now!
This was the feedback from one tester of a dummy pension dashboard , as reported in an excellent presentation by Barclays’ Clive Grinyer at a Pension Quality Mark event yesterday.
It’s a bit like staring at a dirty window for years until somebody lets you see outside.
What’s it all about Clive?
Mercifully this was not a presentation about rival consortia and the struggle to win the Government’s hand to build a dashboard; instead we had a clear articulation of that is going to need to happen for us to see clearly out the window – our retirement finances.
For a dashboard to happen by 2019, three things need to come together
- A digital verifier authorised by Government (like an electronic passport)
- A pension finder service that can get our data from around and about
- A user interface (dashboard) that displays the data in a meaningful way.
The Government has decided we have three years to wait and as it took Clive 8 months just to agree to run this prototype, some will say this is ambitious.
But if the feedback is right, and intuitively I sense it is, the ambition will be worth the hard work that must happen from now on.
The vision for the delivery process was simple and eloquent
- You verify yourself online (otherwise get yourself digitally verified in a post office.
- You enter your national insurance number (which identifies the vast majority of your pension investments
- You see your state pension expressed in £pw, your defined benefits (including annuities) expressed in £pa and your DC pot expressed as a cash sum or a £/pa equivalent
- You get a whole set of tools that allow you to model “what if?” scenarios.
On top of this basic service, other things could be built, assets that can’t be identified by NiNo, could be flagged as likely your
“we found some more money that looks like yours”
details of which might emerge if you can confirm a couple more data items. Beyond this low hanging fruit there might be more stuff that could be manually traced.
Talking with fellow delegates after, we talked about ways to “search by CV” – perhaps uploading a Linked In profile to interrogate past employers about lost pension entitlements. That we were being fanciful told me that delegates were genuinely enthused.
Getting in the window cleaner!
The mood music of the meeting was not antagonistic, sure there were worries expressed that some legacy providers would not want to play – fearing that without (or with reduced) exit penalties, legacy assets might vanish to the stronger pension players.
I thought that legacy providers would not fund IGCs and I was wrong, the legacy provider governance through IGCs is stronger than I dared hope. I do not share the scepticism.
Pots cannot follow members until people engage with the issue of consolidation, educate themselves about how to organise their retirement around their various financial resources and until people are empowered to take decisions using real time information.
I am not sceptical about people taking decisions on how to spend their money. I can walk down Oxford Street day and night and see people doing that in their thousands. If people are given a clean window on what they have, I am sure that they will be empowered to make the most of it, especially when there is a clear pathway to maximising the utility of the savings!
Put more simply, when people know what’s going on, they are quite able to make the most of it (ask Martin Lewis whose website allowed over 4m people to download PPI claims forms).
The digital game-changer
Sceptics ask why – in 30 years of trying- we haven’t had a pensions dashboard. The Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat answered that question at a recent FCA meeting I was at.
“Digital Technology makes it impossible for these secrets to remain hidden”
As I’ve mentioned above, this was not a meeting where the financial services industry looked back in anger, it was, as Tom was doing, looking forward.
People in the room were responding to that anonymous feedback;-
“I didn’t know I wanted this, till I came here, I do now”