When will we get these pension dashboards?
The simple answer is “not before 2024”, the complex answer is in the Pension Dashboard Programme’s timeline .
The problem of delivery is of course that the dashboard has to cater for so many people’s idea of retirement financing.
- For a few people , retirement is about defined benefits -including the state pension
- For most people it is about mixed benefits, with the state pension being supplemented by pension pots saved through work and maybe directly from their bank accounts.
- For the least well-off, the dashboard may simply show entitlements to state benefits.
It is impossible to build a pension dashboard to meet the needs of everyone overnight, the big design question is how complete does the dashboard need to be , to be a “minimum viable product”.
The cautious would say that it needs to be complete if it is not to present the wrong picture to the various groups outlined above. They also point to the fact that even defined benefits change (GMP equalisation, Mcloud etc), that £20bn in DC pots has gone missing and that the state pension is currently inaccurately calculated for some people.
Others will say that we cannot make perfection the enemy of good and that the alternative to a dashboard is the penumbra in which people retiring today find themselves. They would offer the dashboard as a pension finding service and a means for savers to see all their DC pots in one place. I lean towards this view because time is our enemy. We forget that the public are waiting and that casualties of delays are happening today.
Since the casualties are occurring outside the camp, we who are inside do not see them. a person on my boat yesterday told me of his plans for his pension which involved his building his own pension dashboard. Without going into details, this looked like it was heading to a bad place.
There are now further problems besetting the dashboard program with arguments breaking out about how we present future benefits. These center on actuarial projections and depend on the same arcane arguments about inflation and fund growth, which have dominated “illustrations of benefits” as long as I’ve been working in this area.
I think of my friend yesterday with his private dashboard and consider most of the arguments about the Estimated Retirement Income are secondary to the need we have to provide primary information on what people have and what their options are. We are getting caught in a Gordian knot of pension complexity which is preventing good things happening,
The Gordian knot needs to be cut and this will not be done by consensus thinking. The dashboard now needs someone who will take charge and be accountable for the delivery (staging) of the information. We really need a dashboard Tsar who has the courage of his or her convictions.
It is too much to place this role on the Pensions Minister who is many things but not an expert on pension technicalities.
It’s unfair to place that responsibility on Chris Curry, who is doing a good job with minimal resources. He is managing the consensus but he cannot do that and cut the Gordian knot to deliver the Dashboards Available Point.
The Tsar needs to command both the respect and affection of other experts and my suspicion is that that person will almost certainly be a woman. The Tsar needs to have the breadth of vision that comes from knowing both private and public pensions and the technical capacity to understand what matters (and to keep things simple).
I can think of a few women who could take on this role and all of them are great people managers. Because this role needs to be as much about emotional as technical intelligence.
I’m not going to name them here but I hope this little blog will set some hares running.