Do we need a pension dashboard , open pensions or both?

The title of this post is also the title of a session I am chairing at a forthcoming DG conference. I suggested the title and the organisers have asked me to explain myself – so here goes!

I had long thought that the pension dashboard would be the major achievement of “open pensions”, a means by which ordinary people could get to know their pension and interact with their providers to organise their affairs to their advantage. I no longer feel that the pensions dashboard will fulfil this role.  The pension dashboard is fit for one purpose, to find our pensions. It will not be what we hoped for it and that is down to timing.

My blog earlier this morning looked at what is likely to change things in financial markets – cheap phones, China, DeFi. By the time a pension dashboard is generally available, the way financial services are delivered to us will have changed, the dashboard will be delivering to a blue print established in 2017 and will appear to many – especially youngsters – at best quaint. It will be a utility – old before its time.

The culture of the dashboard

This is not to say we won’t get a dashboard. Indeed , after nearly six years we are going the dashboard is going to have a program director.

Those with sharp eyes will note the basic salary of £130k, the need to draw from the pensions industry someone delivering “on time, on budget and with quality“.  The executive team this person will join has so far failed to deliver on time, to any budget and any quality. The dashboard is 3 years late, has taken an inordinate amount of everyone’s time and has shown us nothing by way of quality.

The culture that spawned open pensions

In the meantime the world is changing. Open Finance is more than open banking, it is about re-ordering finance. Open finance is a new way of organising the way we manage money.

DeFi happened in lockdown. Over the summer  it became a new financial industry that has managed to grow assets under management  more than a 1000% in three and a half months, going from $1B to >$10B.

Do we need a pension dashboard, open pensions – or both?

The issues experienced by organizations trying to open up information on our finances sum up the experience of  launching the dashboard.

We will not get a meaningful pension dashboard unless the lessons of open banking are learned and a set of open pension standards established without delay.

Issues such as the consolidation or small pots – whether within master trusts or within the portfolios of ordinary savers are pressing. We cannot afford to go on kicking the can down the road.

Origo’s Unipass is ensuring that data can be sourced through e-signatures. Other initiatives will break down the barriers to getting our data. Open pensions will create dashboards that people will be able to use years in advance of the Government dashboard.

and here’s the thing

The only way that the Government’s pension dashboard will happen is because open finance has arrived and delivered open pensions. When, and only when, the standards are in place for the free-flow of data within the pension eco-system, will the pension dashboard happen.

So the Director of the Pension Dashboard program will be paid £130k pa to tell his stakeholders what is happening out in cyber-land , while they stay in pension lockdown.

This is no bad thing. This is the way it works. We need that pension dashboard but it will be open finance – and in particular open pensions – that will deliver it. Government will simply follow the innovation to its inevitable conclusion…

We need both


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 Do we need a pension dashboard , open pensions or both?

  1. George Kirrin says:

    The term “Open Pensions” frankly scares me, Henry.

    As someone who doesn’t use contactless payment – although I’ve had to in some places since Covid-19 came on the scene – and mistrusts an ability for some DB scheme members to update their expressions of wish on-line without signatures or witnesses, I suppose you’d just call me old-fashioned. But what are the safeguards, or are we just going to rely on compensation schemes which seem to penalise the cautious (who take precautions, but pay towards the compensation) and reward the reckless (and the intermediaries who chase the ambulances)?

    I do agree that many of the young will find the dashboard idea a quaint one. Many of them no longer learn to drive, although I suppose a more up-to-date analogy for some might be with a fitbit watch or bicycle tracker?

    • Martin T says:

      I too am a reluctant adopter of contactless payment and I too want strong safeguards to deter, detect and prevent fraud and improve member outcomes. You are not alone.

      I recently heard of a board of trustees who insist on sending all correspondence to the member for them to pass on to any advisor if they so wish. They feel this increases the chance that the member will at least be aware of what is being done in their name. Scammers provide the best customer service, often saying “Don’t bother reading all that bumf. It’s all fine. Just sign here”.

      Henry has posted numerous times about the difficulty getting electronic signatures accepted. Where it’s merely to gather information I sympathise. However, I am concerned that where consent to action is concerned it could be too easy to click once, regret twice.

      Giving trustees the power to delay or even refuse transfers if they have some reasonable grounds to suspect fraud would be a good start.

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