Should we furlough the pensions dashboard?

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The Pension Dashboard took a tiny step closer to helping people find and understand their pensions yesterday with the publication of the Pension Dashboard Program

The paper sets out , with the simplicity that Chair Chris Curry is known for in his work for the PPI, who the Pension Dashboard will ultimately involve

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dashboard participants

The pension dashboard is a popular idea, probably the most popular of the Government’s ideas on pensions right now. People can visualise seeing their pensions in one place and having a way of working out what their retirements will look like, at least in terms of available money.

People are frightened that they may have missing pensions and the promise of a pension finder service is appealing , especially to those of us past 50 who have complicated affairs and diminishing memory!

And people like the idea of owning their pensions. A space in which they can see all their pensions , without being sold to – is attractive, which is why having a Government dashboard makes sense. But – just as with TPAS and Pensions Wise, there has to be a clear demarcation line between what the Government can do by way of information and guidance, and what the private sector can do by way of advice and execution.

As a recent Which report put it, people are looking  for answers

How much have I got: Where are my pensions and how much might I have at retirement?

Bridging the gap: Where should I make additional contributions?

All in one place: Should I transfer or consolidate my pensions?

Investment choice: Where are my pension invested?

How are my investments doing and how can I manage them?

Retirement income: How should I access my pension?

Shopping around: How do I shop around for retirement income products?

The “big picture” architecture of the Pension Dashboard, as it will look sometime later this decade, is well explained in these documents .

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the dashboard architecture

We are beginning to see in 3D – what the dashboard will look like and what it will cover, the third dimension is dealt with in two technical papers which deal with the data standards that will be created to ensure that data providers deliver accurately and in full. These papers are not final drafts and there will be consultation on them (more of which later).

The fourth dimension – time

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I am very comfortable to a staged approach to dashboard provision. Find and view is the minimum viable product (MVP). B+C follow necessarily from having pension and pension pots found and in view.

The really tricky bit is establishing when there is sufficient information on the dashboard to make it an MVP.

That decision is tricky and this diagram shows a timeline which is far from fixed

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The blue staggered line shows what happens if a few large providers participate. We can see that pension coverage increases dramatically in the early period of onboarding and then flattens out while the long tail of smaller schemes are onboarded (represented by the yellow line.

The big question in terms of delivery is whether the dashboard can go live in the grey box or whether it should wait for completeness – at the end of the staging window (the right hand vertical dotted blue line.

We are now introduced to a new acronyms which we will have to remember when talking about the Pensions Dashboard. The DAP or “Dashboards Available Point”

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I am concerned that if the DAP is at the end of the staging period, we will not see a dashboard till 2026 or even later. If we set the DAP in the grey box period, we might see a DAP in 2022 or 2023. We will not see a dashboard this year and in 2021 we may have a chance to look at a pilot.

These estimates are based on us getting on with things and I see no great wish to get on with things from pension people.

I have now read eight IGC Chair’s statements and struggle to remember one comment about getting provider data “dashboard ready”. The PLSA, who are responsible for the majority of small schemes put out a statement on the dashboard yesterday which encouraged delay

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I’m afraid I only have small print but the key phrase is “many schemes have more pressing things to deal with than dashboards”.  The PLSA welcome the postponement of a consultation on the dashboard’s progress to the autumn because of COVID 19.

I don’t think that when it comes to pensions , there are more pressing things for people than finding and seeing their pension entitlements.

I think the PLSA are misjudging the popular demand for pension dashboards and are using COVID19 as a means to push back the tough job of getting data to the dashboard or to Integrated Service Providers even further. There is a very real chance that – should the consultation run well into 2021 – that the 4-5 year staging period could mean that the DAP might be pushed back to 2027.

The fourth dimension – time – changes everything. If we are planning a digital project to deliver even two or three years hence, then we are pushing at the limits of public expectations. We have higher standards for digital delivery than for Crossrail or HS2, Open  banking is being rolled out in a staged way – over a considerably shorter time-frame.

Let’s not furlough the dashboard this summer

We are already four years in to the gestation period of the dashboard. These three papers are the first steps towards delivery of something that is already a reality in other parts of Europe. The papers are each very good.

I am encouraged that the FCA are increasingly involving themselves in the process of delivering information , guidance and advice in a digital age.

I am also encouraged by the adoption of new technology over the past few weeks. Even technology dimwits like me can operate web conferencing facilities.

I see the summer as a period where great progress can be made in digitalising the pension schemes that will provide the bulk of the data to the dashboard. When we have caught our breath we will discover that remote working does not mean we have to be less productive, we may indeed find ourselves with time to think strategically.

My hope is that rather than furlough the pension dashboard for six months. we actively engage in the key questions that these papers throw up.

I for one could sign AgeWage up to each of the pension dashboard goals today.

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About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
This entry was posted in advice gap, age wage, Dashboard, dc pensions, pensions and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Should we furlough the pensions dashboard?

  1. Martin T says:

    Henry I think you’re being a little unfair when you write

    “I don’t think that when it comes to pensions , there are more pressing things for people than finding and seeing their pension entitlements.”

    From your blog April 6
    “In short, the payment of claims on our pension savings – for whatever reason – are a matter of supreme importance to pension provision. I am therefore shocked that one of our major pension providers, Legal and General, has closed its member helplines so that we can no longer call our provider in emergency.”

    Schemes top priorities will be ensuring pensions get paid; that members are steered to appropriate information and guidance to help them avoid scams and other decisions they later regret; and then considering funding levels, investment strategy and crucially covenant strength.

    For example, if I was at L&G then getting the helplines back up would be more urgent than reviewing proposed dashboard data standards.

    I do however share the sentiment that the industry should be moving faster on the dashboard than it has to date. I would guess a decent proportion of those retiring at present will have some DB support alongside DC savings. That will soon change to almost universal DC savings alone and the problem of small pot proliferation and absent owners is only going to get worse. Without a dashboard many will retire worse off than they need be and without having realised in time to take preventative action.

    With best wishes to you and the whole community, stay home, stay safe
    Martin Tingle

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