In his recent podcast with Tom McPhail, a resolute Guy Opperman defended his engagement program saying there is “never a right time”. He cited the introduction of the Pension Schemes Act as a Bill in the time of Brexit, Covid and Governmental change. He argued that launching “Attention to Pension” week – or whatever we are currently calling it, next month was not the right month to tell people to save more (it isn’t), but that it’s going ahead anyway (hopefully with messaging more in tune with the times).
His predecessor Steve Webb, argues that auto-enrolment – the one undoubted pension success story of the millennium – would never have happened if we had delayed its staging till the end of “austerity”.
So I am absolutely behind Opperman in his call for no (further) slippage in the timetable for the Pensions Dashboard and I give a hat-tip to Chris Curry and the dashboard implementation team for sticking to their guns as they get the inevitable heavy artillery aimed at them.
Chris Curry and Guy Opperman have been in the bunker being pounded by long-range bombardment from those arguing that the dashboard is a data security risk, risks allowing people to misunderstand their pensions, will be hi-jacked by scammers and abused by fintechs. He is not emerging waving a white flag – quite the opposite.
On the #PensionDashboard, @guyopperman said he had ‘zero sympathy’ for firms that had failed to get their data ready for onboarding onto the dashboard project next year. He said the industry was also “not doing enough” to support a nation-wide pilot of the “Mid-Life MOT” project
— Josephine Cumbo (@JosephineCumbo) September 1, 2022
Apparently , many of the largest pension providers told him to hsi face they had no plans to invest in data cleansing and data feeds in readiness for the dashboard till legislation was in place. The legislation wasn’t timely (due to delays in passing the Act) but it is in place.
Which would explain Opperman’s Zero Tolerance/Zero sympathy. If Guy Opperman is still in post for the PLSA annual conference next month, expect more of the same.
To continue the analogy, it looks like the bombardment may be running out of ammunition.
A can do attitude emerging?
I’m hearing a new tone in parts of the industry.
Here is Lesley Carline of KGC, sounding a lot more positive than I’ve heard anyone from the magic circle of pension management consultants.
“Finding and presenting pensions data from multiple sources including schemes, platforms and providers in one place is no mean feat.
“Scheme administrators still have a lot to get to grips with by next spring. To live up to the expectations of pension savers and the government, pension schemes and providers will need to make sure their data, systems and processes are in order well ahead of the connection deadline.” (my emphasis)
Sleeping giants like Capita are finally stepping up
Is there ever a “right time” for the Pensions Dashboard?
Like auto-enrolment prior to 2012, the dashboard is seen as a good idea ahead of its time. Exactly when a good time for the dashboard is, we never hear. I don’t think we’ll see a fully operational dashboard before 2025 but my prediction when MaPS got involved in 2020 was 2028 (so my worst fears haven’t been realised).
I suspect that we will look back at the implementation of the dashboard and ask why we waited so long. The answer will be that for the quarter of a century between the idea of an integrated pension statement and the arrival of dashboards BAU, a generation of pension plutocrats said “now is not the right time for a pension dashboard”.
Now is the right time for the pension dashboards – bring them on!