Can I have my data please?

Data distribution

Random cartoon to cheer up actuaries

It’s a commonplace to think of data as we think of money, as something we either own – or guard on behalf of someone else. GDPR taught us that and though I’ve forgotten most of what I was taught about GDPR and the Data Protection Act, I am at least aware that you don’t mess with other people’s data and you do have the right to your data – in machine readable format.

Over the past six weeks, my noble intern, Scott Davidson has been assembling a list of excuses given us by the administrators of occupational pension schemes and  personal pensions (including SIPPs and master trusts) as to why they cannot honour the requests of our 500 investors who want AgeWage to see their data.

For some it is that AgeWage is not an IFA

For some it is that data requests can’t be delegated

For some that the letter of authority has an e-signature on it

For others it is that the LOA arrives by electronic mail

While for some it’s not enough for the request to be for data in machine readable format, they insist that the data arrives on a piece of paper or in a PDF surrounded by warnings that the data is dangerous.


Necessary pain

I don’t mind going through this pain – nor does Scott. We have to go through a process to get where we want to be. Administrators aren’t used to getting requests for contribution histories and are naturally suspicious (which is good because it stops the scammers).

There is no consistency which suggests that the pensions dashboard is not going to be an easy affair but I think there is a general willingness to co-operate, even if one or two providers seem to think their value for money should be as easy to understand as SERPS.

This is necessary pain


What is the win?

I have been told that what I am striving for is a minimum viable product or MVP. I would prefer this to be known as the Minimum Virtuos Product, for that is what I want to build.  I want the simplest way of describing value for money and I think I have found the concept, now I need to prove the concept and convert the concept into a product that is useful.

That is worth the pain.


My apologies to my investors

As well as its 500 investors  who are busy giving us data, we have large institutions. Yesterday we received 62,000 data files from various sources- creating a data -set that can justify our boast to have found a way to describe VFM is a data intensive business.

My investors may be wondering how we can get 62k files in a day but not get their file in a month and it’s down to one word “anonymity”.

Your file is down to you and it is your data not mine. I’m sorry that I am having to come back to your for wet signatures, with stamped address envelopes requiring you to go to a postbox you’ve forgotten was there!

But the trouble will be worth it.

Can I have my data please – yes you can sir- and soon you can have it as fast as it takes you to push “send”.

 

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen, Director of First Actuarial, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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2 Responses to Can I have my data please?

  1. Ros Altmann says:

    Well done for persisting HEnry. Yet again, this proves that pensions are in the dark ages when it comes to administration and record-keeping. I have seen time and again that the records pension providers are using are riddled with errors, they may have been entered incorrectly many years ago, or the latest information may still have been input wrongly. Much is done manually, there is no standard data format and providers have not been willing to spend money on the most basic housekeeping. They will spend huge sums on investment management and on attracting more contributions, but have so far been way behind the curve in making sure the most elementary aspects are right. Building a house with faulty plumbing and electrics will sooner or later cause huge problems – when will we see the updating of pension records onto digital platforms and a major industry reconciliation process that can better ensure members know what they have accrued over time. A pensions dashboard is not going to function properly, in my view, without proper attention to data – reconciliation, standardisation and automation. Time is long overdue to make pensions digital, I’ve had huge interest and agreement from many parts of the industry, but providers are mostly being far too slow or don’t want to do this at all.

  2. henry tapper says:

    We’ll get there in the end!

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