Bosses – the dashboard is not about you – it’s about us!

wake up and smell the coffee


More than four in five employers oppose the implementation of multiple pensions dashboards and any that do not include state pensions, the Association of Consulting Actuaries (ACA) says.

The ACA found 82% of employer respondents were against the dual dashboard proposal in the second of a series of reports, published today (30 November), outlining the findings from its 2020 pension trends survey.

In addition, less than half have of employers have cleaned their data in readiness for a pension dashboard, despite continued warnings from pensions and financial inclusion minister Guy Opperman. (Professional Pensions)

Reading this last night through me into a rage. Re-reading it this morning I am still angry and need to explain why or I will be grumpy all day!

Three fundamental misunderstandings

Currently only the press release, not the report -is available on ACA’s website

1. The consumer not the provider decides

It is not up to employers, providers or actuaries to determine what people see on dashboards, it is up to people. People will use dashboards that make it easy to see what pensions they have, what they are worth, what value they are providing, what money they are taking and what can be done with their money to make their later lives most easy.

If dashboards do not fulfill these needs they will not be used. If people want to see their data and they cannot, they will ask why not and if the dashboard doesn’t come up with the information , they will draw one of two conclusions. They will either conclude that the dashboard is rubbish or that the provider of data is withholding data (and is rubbish).

2. Poor data will find you out

At AgeWage, we analyze data. Some datasets we analyse are clean, suspect data is measured at pretty well 0% of records analysed. Other data sets may have up to 10% of records that don’t look right. And we are analysing data that has been voluntarily shared with us. We know that the worst data is not shared with us because it is (like dirty washing) kept out of our sight. If data is not ready by the Data Accessibility Point, the issue will be with the provider , not the dashboard.

3. It is no harder making data available to one or a thousand dashboards

For years, those who hold data, whether employers or their designated data managers (administrators), have acted as gatekeepers; they can agree to supply data or turn down data requests on rules they make. But dashboards won’t work like that. Instead, anyone who is allowed to operate a pension dashboard will be given the keys to the data safeguarded by pension administrators. The point of the Pension Schemes Bill/Act is that people’s data is made available to them by right and no local rules apply.

Any dashboard operator can get any data from any database, including the state database that provides rights to the state pension and can do so using APIs which interrogate , find and transport the data from one database to another. Once you have made data available to the dashboard eco-system, your rules do not apply. It is up to the dashboard regulation system to determine who gets the keys and who doesn’t – not you.

Time for some public education

I remember that many people , prior to auto-enrolment being staged, said that it would and could never happen. Many pointed to the operational difficulties of getting over 1m employers compliant. What happened was unexpected, faced with the challenge of compliance with a new set of rules, payroll and providers found new ways to do things and compliance levels are now at a remarkably consistent level across the million plus employers in the auto-enrolment network.

This could only have been achieved with the mandating from the 2008 Pensions Act which made auto-enrolment the law. All that talk by the IOD and others of mass non-compliance (back in 2013/4) came to nothing. The same is happening with the pensions dashboards – which are the data equivalent of auto-enrolment.

Guy Opperman is absolutely right to have no truck with those who say dashboards cannot be done. Once this Pension Schemes Bill is enacted (hopefully in the next few days), the law will be in place that says that all who hold pensions data- that means those who hold data for employees , the self-employed and people out of work, will have to make that data available to everyone who has pension rights.

That includes the homeless, the infirm, the bosses and the workers -everyone will, provided they can get access to the internet and can remember a few details about themselves, be able to see their pension pots, their DB pension rights and their state pensions. This will be the law, Government is and will make that clear.

Pension Dashboards will have no reason to be exclusive

Why should a pension dashboard want to exclude your state pension rights? If it has keys to the state pension data, why would it want to diminish its popular value by not including state data, data about defined benefit pensions as well as data about our pension pots? Dashboards will be celebrating every new data locker unlocked!

The employers surveyed have yet to move into an open finance mindset and remain in a world that has ceased to be. It is as if the work done by the CMA , the OBIE , the FCA and of course for the GDPR, has had no impact. It is quite amazing that employers (and their administrators) can be so blind to what has been going on all around them

We live in an inclusive rather than exclusive world where ordinary people have fundamental rights to data that concerns them. They have the rights to see that data as they like, when they like, wherever it is published and there is nothing that employers or their data administrators can do to stop that.

The ACA report is important, not for what it says about dashboards but what it says about those who hold the data on dashboards. It is high time that they woke up and smelled the coffee.

one for Cranberry fans

About henry tapper

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