Ros Altmann’s right about dashboards.

Ros new

It’s good to see Ros Altmann contributing to the debate on the pension dashboard – it’s particularly good that she chose to do so on this blog. (comments). For those who don’t press links – here’s what she has to say

Dear Henry

I do agree that it was never realistic to expect the Government itself to fund Pensions Dashboard.

However, I do believe it should funded – by the pension providers who should be required to enable customers to see all their pension savings in a standard format, in one place.

That will involve plenty of work of course, but what seems to have been forgotten too often in this debate is that pension providers receive billions of pounds a year in both tax relief and pension contributions, courtesy of the taxpayer.

Having received so much money over so many years, surely it is not unreasonable to ask them to invest in serving their customers better, ensuring their pension data is reliable and secure and funding a dashboard.

Expecting the Government to pay for this seems unreasonable – but Government should and could facilitate it. Requirements for providers to upload data, for example, would help. I can’t see DB getting on a dashboard any time soon, but DC auto-enrolment pensions should be on there at the very least.

Pensionsync could actually develop an independent dashboard, but it needs funding.

You are doing great work Henry, helping to explain pensions to people.

Thank you.

As it happens, I helped the Sun set up its super non-digital pension dashboard yesterday, helping Dan Jones and Harriet Cooke to explain pensions to millions of people who read that paper.

Paul Lewis had a bit of fun at my expense


Well he has around 15 times more followers than me so the “Lewis empire” not to mention the “Altmann” empire are what really matter

Pensions need to be explained for what they are and the Lewis’ and Altmanns are there to do it!

And they could do worse than cut out and keep the Sun’s simple

“eight point plan to show what your retirement pot is”

the sun.jpg

Not for the first time – Ros is right

Although I am always disagreeing with Ros, we agree on the main things, which is that older people need pensions to replace their income lost when they get too tired to work and set off on the longest holiday of their lives.

That they do so without a dashboard, a steering wheel -let alone some financial satnav – is a scandal.

The pension industry has the money to build the links and organisations like pensionsync have the capacity to deliver the kind of information that the readers of the Sun need to manage their money through their later years.

I suspect that most of these people will have access within a decade to collective schemes which can give them a wage for life by pooling their savings and providing them with an insurance against them living too long.

Those who prefer to have a huge capital reservoir from which they can drawdown, will be able to do so from a single well managed pot – provided we can get “Go Compare” into pensions. We need a pension aisle in the “Money Supermarket” so we can compare the pensions market as we do those for other insurances.

We need to protect the vulnerable (that’s most of us!)

The financial services industry does a good job of looking after the 6% of us who take financial advice but little for the 94% who don’t.

The story of Peter Lord in the Times this weekend, echoes those of decent people in Port Talbot and round the country whose trust has been abused by a handful of advisers.

Those advisers are the product of a system that does not do enough to help ordinary financially vulnerable people from being scammed. I am not talking here about making people financial economists, but of giving people the basic tools to make good decisions for themselves.

Digital dashboards that take people along the journey laid out by the Sun’s Mr Money, are what’s needed. We don’t need to wait for a big puff of smoke from the DWP to do this kind of work, we can get on with it right now.

Protecting the 94% of us who don’t have financial advisers from making bad decisions is more important than worrying about who does what. The 10m new pension savers who auto-enrolled and are seeing their pots swell as contributions increase, want more than they are getting.

So Ros Altmann is bang on the money in joining PensionSync. That’s precisely the kind of organisation that can put us back in touch with – and control of – our savings.


About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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11 Responses to Ros Altmann’s right about dashboards.

  1. Bryn Davies says:

    Just a reminder that the dashboard will be meaningless for the 80% if it doesn’t include their State pension.

    • Ros Altmann says:

      Having set up the digital state pension service, it should not be a problem to ensure state pension information is included in a dashboard (once GMP/contracting out records are finalised of course!) There is a challenge to get reliable historic data, which is why I am so keen to ensure that auto-enrolment data are checked and verified for accuracy from the earliest stage.

  2. Bob Ward says:

    The direction of travel is now right and, like the Banking / Building Society industry with the introduction of Link and other joint systems integration, there should be ample resources to coordinate a combined central hub.
    However, I have two issues:
    1. It doesn’t have to be a central database, just a hub which collates and displays members’ assorted pension plans; i.e. the data can be transmitted and it would be the hub which displays the information in an easily read manner
    2. There is no need for complicated provider or scheme IT changes and I do not think DB should be excluded just because many people do not understand them. For a start, the projected pension amount, plus the alternative tax free cash and reduced pension might be the best way forward. These can be added to a summary of potential pensions irrespective of DB or DC origin
    So the solution is for a hub to be developed, perhaps PensionSync linking up with say Origo (as they are heavily involved in the pension transfer compatibility ‘club’). The raw data need be no different to the extraction of internal reports all schemes have to provide their administrators and trustees with already
    Lets keep things simple

  3. DC says:

    People will always find some excuse to abdicate their responsibilities and leave them at someone else’s door.

  4. Kay Ingram says:

    I am puzzled that Ros appears to think the pension industry want the Government to fund the Dashboard. In all the discussions and feasibility studies I have seen, the DWP is simply being asked to legislate, so that the minority of providers who don’t wish to take part are forced to do so. Most of the development work has already been done by the industry gratis and the DWP risk losing goodwill for future projects if they drop this popular initiative.

    • Ros Altmann says:

      Hi Kay, I can’t see the DWP legislating to force additional costs on unwilling legacy providers but I would have hoped that at the very least we could ensure that all pensions derived from auto-enrolment since 2012 should be on a standard dashboard that can allow people to see all their auto-enrolment pension records in one place. This would mean all providers in the auto-enrolment market being willing to fund the dashboard project but is that something they are willing to do? DWP can facilitate this, but legislation in the next short period will be more problematic I fear.

      • henry tapper says:

        Actually, research I’m doing for AgeWage (albeit early stage) suggests that many insurers would genuinely like to see their legacy upgraded to latest platforms. Execs are fearful for their personal reputations and corporates for corporate reputations if they don’t. I heard twice the phrase “if they’re going to go- we want them to go quickly”. We have still to hear the outcome of the non-workplace pension review of our £400bn legacy assets!

      • Carolyn J says:

        I agree with Kay, the government is being asked to ensure all providers of pensions of whatever ilk are required to provide the data. The funding is a separate issue, but it would be wrong for legacy providers, DB providers etc to be excluded from any funding request as they have assets under management or are running commercial businesses just as much as auto enrolment providers.

        I don’t see the point of a dashboard consisting of AE schemes only, are these really the lost pensions? What about all the stakeholder individual pensions, public service pensions, AVCs etc ?

        For planning purposes a partial picture is useless and potentially dangerous. would a partial picture prevent people going to seek lost pensions or would they assume the dashboard is showing what they have. Consumer research suggested the latter. We should also remember that providers of pensions (the industry) is wide ranging, and not as some people like to think the master trusts and insurers. It includes SIPP providers of all sizes, self administered schemes, public sector bodies, occupational scheme trustees, third party administrators all need to be brought on board.

      • Ros Altmann says:

        I do agree with you Carolyn – all I’m saying is that I can’t see Government legislating to force legacy providers at this time to upload data until there is a proven mechanism, therefore I was just suggesting a place we could start. I wonder whether we are in danger of making the best the enemy of the good, so maybe we should start somewhere and then bring other policies in, rather than trying to do everything all at once and ending up with no progress.

  5. Peter C says:

    Ask Roz about the Brexit dashboard!

    • Ros Altmann says:

      Thanks Peter – my thoughts on a Brexit dashboard is that we are currently on a fully integrated digital platform with the EU so we already have our dashboard, but are now going to go back to using manual spreadsheets to enter information instead!

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