I want to choose my dashboard please!


Thankfully the Government has seen sense, it is not going to provide a one size fits all Volkswagon dashboard, it’s going to offer us a motor-show of choice!

The Government is not going to build or maintain a pension dashboard.

The Government has decided not to build one big dashboard  but leave it to the “pensions industry” to build it’s own. This of course was the original Treasury idea as articulated in September 2016.

What is being ignored by “industry commentators” is that in the intervening two years we have witnessed a Fintech revolution, evidence of which includes

  • the successful introduction in the UK of open banking
  • the rise of a new kind of pension provider (Pension Bee, Evestor etc.)
  • the dominance of digital price comparison sites over mass market financial decision making
  • the success of the FCA’s innovation unit and especially it’s sandbox.

In the face of the extraordinary advances in financial technology, the “pensions industry” has obdurately dug its heels in and called for Government to build a dashboard.

Having been seduced by the big commercial pension providers and their trade body (the ABI) into believing it could do Fintech, the DWP has -very wisely – thought again.

This will not of course stop the crazies from demanding state control of our pension decision making. Sadly I have to number my good friend Gregg McClymont among their number. People’s Pension now want to put the Pension Dashboard in the hands of the Single Guidance Body. The only thing the SGB ever had going for it was the prospect of it being run by Michelle Cracknell, since that went, I have been trying to forget the huge amount of time and energy that will be wasted on yet another vanity guidance project.

The Single Guidance Body is no more the home of the dashboard than a second row forward is a fly-half. The SGB is a placebo for those who believe they have been made free of pension by the pension freedoms, it will be an idiot’s playground.

Those, like Jo Cumbo, arguing that we need a “big bang” dashboard that provides everything we want in one place, are living in dreamland. We will get there with tiny-steps, the Government would never have got there!

The Government is going to make it easy for the private sector to build and maintain a pensions dashboard.

The main thing that a pension dashboard will need to do is find data. In case no one has noticed – the private sector is very good at doing this. Google finds data.

There are a number of organisations who already find pensions data. Origo has its new hub (albeit an expensive subscription service) but it also has its pension finder service.

MoneyHub will (for £2 per month) find and display your pension data on a dashboard.

Yesterday, Pension Bee announced that you would be able to find its platform on Yolt.

The integration of financial products onto banking platforms like Starling, Monzo and Revolut is progressing so fast that for a generation of us (eg the millennial generation) pentech will be a reality before we’ve made our next mug of Horlicks.

Help with pensions

If all this sounds a bit frightening to the “Pensions Industry”, just wait till the price comparison sites get to grips with the opportunities “open pensions” can mean to them.

And what is good about the Government’s announcement yesterday is not just that they won’t be getting in the way, but they will commit resource to helping. We will have to wait until the publication of the feasibility report. I know that this report is ready to go, I’ve even discussed it with a DWP mandarin – and I’m quite sure it will address the issues to do with reliability mentioned two years ago by Simon Kirby in the Aviva Digital Garage.

Of course this will mean making DWP data available to the private sector via an API. Why wouldn’t it? The current means of accessing your pension data is via the super-clunky Government Gateway- that has to change if we are to see our state benefit entitlements with the swipe on our phone,

And of course it will mean jogging along reluctant pension providers (not least the third party administrators who run our occupational pension schemes). If you want an indication of who will be the reluctant adopters, you need look no further than Pension Bee’s Robin Hood Index (see video below).

If the likes of Willis Towers Watson continue to refuse to play with Origo and the other data integrators, then they will be named and shamed by Pension Bee, by me and by an ever increasing group of digital commentators fed up with their regressive – anti-customer tactics. Meanwhile organisations like People’s Pension – which has actually built an API site into which developers can plug their kit, will get rounds of applause!

This constant process of naming and shaming is the only way to get to provider’s hearts. For their hearts are defended by their wallets and if you take away the embedded value of their “reputation”, you touch their beating hearts (bless them!).

Three good reasons to be a pension dashboard provider

  1. Cash-generative; data is the new currency; if you become a data controller and do it well, you become a hugely cash-generative business
  2. Social purpose; if your business model has social purpose, that purpose is enhanced by your providing a popular service to the public
  3. Brand; 25 years ago, there was no google. Brands like theirs have grown because they have become a force for good, delivered to their social purpose and made huge amounts of money in the process. The embedded value in such a brand is greater even than its immediate revenues.

The gain-sayers will tut-tut about my brazen commerciality, they will argue that I am exploiting social purpose for commercial gain, as if the two are mutually exclusive. Gregg McClymont will mumble stuff about the benefits of “not for profit” (as if his living didn’t depend on the earnings and embedded value of People’s).

Whether we like it or not, we live in a capitalist society driven by trade. It’s what made Britain great in the 18th and 19th centuries and it’s what will make Britain great again in the 21st.

I don’t want to see a Pension Dashboard – I want to see the car! I want a steering wheel to point me in the right direction, and I want a chassis and engine to get me where I want to be. Like the 94% of the population who don’t take advice, I want to be able to do all this without having to hire a chauffeur,

Thankfully, the roadblock that has been stopping people like me getting on with it, has now been removed and hopefully the people blocking the road (DWP) will not help the traffic move freely.

The Dashboard is dead – long live pension dashboards!

Here are those whack Bee- Keepers reminding you of the good, bad and downright ugly!


About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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2 Responses to I want to choose my dashboard please!

  1. Henry – In your penultimate paragraph, did you mean now instead of not?

  2. henry tapper says:

    I meant “now”, though many will think “not” better! I would not have started the sentence “fortunately” if I felt that the roadblock had not been removed!! The DWP’s involvement in the provision of data would have been a roadblock to our getting that data for years to come, I believe that some of those calling for 100% data from every source, are deliberately demanding a higher standard of data provision than can be achieved in reasonable timescales. Whether through ignorance, weakness or deliberate fault, they are arguing to keep the roadblock in place.

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