Data in a dungeon



Guy Opperman was in fighting mood at the SPP yesterday

I’m pleased that Guy Opperman came out fighting for the dashboard when he addressed the Society of Pension Professionals yesterday.

He identified two central problems facing the consumer wanting to find out about their pensions.

  1. That their data is often far from clean and not dashboard ready
  2. That data security is being used as a dashboard stopper.

He is right on both fronts , as our data testing is showing. We are finding that around 10% of the data we are analyzing in our Sandbox test does not make sense and is likely to contain material errors which impact the amount people have in their pension pot.

We are being blocked from receiving data by certain record keepers who consider it their duty to demand data security certification that is entirely disproportionate to the business of finding pensions and displaying value for money metrics.

I’m glad that Guy Opperman and I are on the same page as we are due to meet shortly and I will be making it clear the issues consumers have getting simple guidance on how their pensions are doing.

Data in a dungeon

There is a commonly held view that displaying pension data on a dashboard is a risky business – providing opportunities for scammers to target individuals and misappropriate their money.   Where is the evidence that this is happening?

There are numerous advisers who hold data about their clients which is accessible via a login on a publicly available site. Where information is specific to the individual , care must be taken to ensure that the GDPR is not breached and that the site is secure from hackers.

But as with prisons, so with data. There are high security prisons and high security websites. Banks , who are entrusted as custodians of our money are expected to provide a higher quality of custody than sites that simply display people’s data.

But certain pension providers seem to regard sites seeking to provide people with a common view of their DC pension rights as an extension of their record keeping system.

Meanwhile, the reasonable requests of ordinary savers have to be respected.

I think this distinction was well made by Guy Opperman in the aforementioned speech as reported in Professional Pensions.

“I don’t diminish and dispute the importance of data confidentiality but there are only two ways to do it – either a depository of everyone information everyone can dive into, or the idea now which is for something data secure that basically only allows the individual or a named independent financial adviser working with an individual to access their information.

“This option is light years away from the data problems that could exist with the first route. I genuinely believe we are going down the most data secure route that is best for the individual.”

The direction of travel is clear and is reinforced by yesterday’s Call for Input on consumer investmetns  from the FCA which makes it clear that consumers need guidance and that tests like ours are necessary for this to happen.

As part of the RDR/FAMR review we have been working with firms to understand their concerns so they have the confidence to give consumers the guidance they need…We would like to see more firms offering broader forms of high-quality support for their customers and testing how this can work in practice. We may need to provide a degree of regulatory oversight and comfort for some of these tests, akin to our Sandbox regime.

Locking down data is not the answer

Ultimately our data is our data and it is up to the FCA and not pension providers to make sure that the data is managed responsibly by its regulated advisers.

People who put their trust in regulated advisers, especially in regulated environments like the regulatory sandbox, can expect to be protected not just by the adviser but by the FCA.

Refusing to co-operate with firms like AgeWage , playing to the FCA’s agenda, is hardly compliant. Yet it is the compliance teams of some of Britain’s largest insurers who seem most reluctant to release people’s data from their dungeons.

Things are going to have to change if consumers are going to have proper access to information on pensions with which they can make informed decisions.

Open pensions not data in a dungeon!


About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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