Governance is an interesting word.
the action or manner of governing a state, organization, etc.“a more responsive system of governance will be required”
- ARCHAICrule; control.“what, shall King Henry be a pupil still, under the surly Gloucester’s governance ?”
It has morphed from “rule or control” to a “manner of governing” in an etymological fudge-slide.
One of the things that happened in 2018 which scares the life out of big corporations was the Data Protection Act. Among other things it gives ordinary people to have the data others hold on them made available to them in machine readable format.
In terms of “rule and control” , this means putting us back in charge of what is rightfully ours. That is why GDPR – for all the moaning – is fundamentally good news for the consumer.
When it comes to pensions, what DP18 and the GDPR do, is to give us the right to our data in the way we want it presented.
What the Pensions Dashboard does is make the provision of that data easy, so we can see all our data in one place at the press of a key, a swipe of our screen.
Governance and freedom of information are uneasy bedfellows.
It is natural for those in Government to want to control and rule. It is natural that they will side with organisations that will help them control and rule. This is why the Government is reluctant to give us free access to our data.
Instead of allowing the market to get on with the solution, Government is inventing elaborate systems to rule and control the provision of our data to us – the data we have a right to under DP18.
Here is the current Governance plan
If you read the Government Consultation paper which doubles up as a feasibility study, you see that the plans for “Rule and Control” involve setting up a single dashboard with a single data transmitter – the Pension Finding Service or PFS.
In time, and only after the PFS has been allowed to dictate its terms, other dashboards will be allowed to ask for data, but those requests must be through the PFS who authorise them.
In short, the consumer gets very little say in what he or she asks for, everything is determined by the Chair of the SFGB and its constituent parts.
This is how bureaucracy stifles innovation.
How governance was rested from an oligarchy
Britain long ago recognised that giving absolute power to one entity (the monarchy) was a bad thing . Through a series of insurrections, power was rested from an absolute monarchy and distributed to the people through a process now known as democracy.
Britain’s success has always been founded on our pragmatic distribution of power and devolvement of authority to the people who do the work. So when we had an industrial revolution, it was bottom up. France and others tried to impose an industrial revolution from Government down and it didn’t work. The people didn’t buy it, industry was stifled, the entrepreneurs fled to England and prospered!
In today’s terms – the oligarchy is not so much the Government but something called the pension industry. You can see them lined up at the top of this picture.
At the top of the tree – owning the dashboards are the big beast providers – and the Government’s Money Advice Service (soon to be the SFGB). These are the guys who rule and control. To their right are the financial advisers who those who rule and control may allow to share in the spoils.
Nowhere in this picture is there any representation of the consumer. That is because in the technical architecture and the governance of the pension dashboard , the consumer is represented by those who rule and control.
Your pension – your rights!
If you allow this “governance model” to happen , then the pension dashboard will not be about what you want to see – your right under DPA18, it will be about what the dashboards want you to see. The dashboards will control what you see because they will control the governance and they will control the single pipe through which data requests flow – the Pension Finder Service.
Not only will they control what you see, but – as the only player – they will control the price you pay to see your data. They will have ultimate control of when the dashboard is working and when it is down for maintenance so they’ll also control opening hours.
The pensions industry would have you believe that this is “open pensions” but it is not. There may be open data standards – but they are only open to the Pension Finder Service and the organisations they sub-contract to – to do the dirtier plumbing
The big fib in all this is contained in the promotion of Open Pensions
The Pensions Dashboard architecture introduces a central trust anchor and authorisation server component that enables the consumer to control consent to access their data and also delegate access to third parties.
This may sound like putting the consumer in control but it isn’t. The consumer authorises just once, but has no real choice about who are his or her agents in this. That choice is determined by others, people who know best.
The only choice that a consumer gets is the choice of having their data delivered – it is that stark – take it or leave it.
Why this matters.
There are a number of things that people want to know about their pensions.
- The first is what they are worth
- The second is how to get their money back
- The third is how much they’re paying to have their money looked after
- The fourth is what is happening with their money while it is away
- The fifth is how their money has done in terms of interest earned.
When these questions are answered, consumers (like you and me) then may ask the question what do I do next and this may result in them concluding they would like their money back, it may even result in them wanting to put more money away.
But that is for the consumer to decide.
The current thinking of all those with whom I speak on the dashboard from the pensions industry is that we need strong governance so that people make the right decisions and those decisions will be about saving more into the pots managed by the pensions industry.
Which is why all this matters. If you want any kind of independent view of what you have got, if you want straight answers to your real questions, then you need to have a dashboard independent of the pensions industry, a dashboard run for you and not for them.
We need genuinely independent governance – genuinely independent pension finders and dashboards which play to the ordinary person – not special interest groups within the pension industry.
We need to rest “rule and control” back from the pensions industry and give it to those who are genuinely on the consumer’s side.
We have only a few weeks before the consultation ends – this is why I am writing this blog and the blog I published earlier today.