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Providers unveil pensions dashboard prototype

The pensions dashboard prototype has been delivered to Government ministers, with those in charge of the project saying it shows “technological hurdles” can be overcome.

The project, which is designed to show savers all their pension pots in one place, has been managed by the Association of British Insurers on behalf of the Treasury. It has included 80 people from 17 pension firms and six technology companies.

It is hoped the service will be available for consumers to use by 2019.

But a source close to the project says differences in opinion over how the dashboard is funded remain, with some participants calling for a wider funding pool.

It understood that discussions have taken place over whether smaller, newer entrants to the financial technology market should be able to join the project for a reduced fee.

Four-step process

The ABI says consumers will confirm their identity using a process like the Government verification system used to access online information about tax returns and the state pension. Consumers will then have to opt in to giving the dashboard permission to share their information with multiple pension schemes and providers.

Queries are then sent to look for the pension pots that match the consumer’s details, including the state pension.

The system then reports back on all the pensions it has found to a single page, showing the names of the schemes and their estimated value at a particular retirement age. There will also be an estimated value at the top with the combined monthly or annual income in retirement.

In the future it is expected dashboards will allow consumers to get more information about each pension pot, for example, relating to their savings and contact details for that scheme.

Pensions dashboard steering committee member and Finance & Technology Research Centre director Ian McKenna says at this stage the service will only show accumulated pension funds but it is hoped that will be extended to decumulated pots as well.

He says: “The current scope is pensions in accumulation. It is inevitable the project will be extended. If we are going to give people who are in the accumulation stage details of their information it is a natural next step. In the fullness of time all of the long-term savings products will be included in dashboards.”

Data quality concerns

Chairman of ITM, one of the technology partners in the prototype project, Duncan Howorth has concerns about the completeness and accuracy of data across the pensions industry and says much of the data held in occupational and DC schemes is variable.

He says: “A big challenge here is going to be how we make sure that what people access through the dashboard is current and accurate and up-to-date.”

Howorth says a “reluctance to engage” is evident from some parts of the industry. He says the dashboard will only succeed if the industry works together and agrees an approach to data sharing.

Howorth adds: “I suspect the Government at some point is going to have to legislate to force people to improve their data and make their data available. If it comes to compulsion that would be a shame because this is such a force for good for consumers that the industry should be behind it.”

A “transformational” tool

ABI long-term savings and protection policy director Yvonne Braun says: “It sounds obvious that in 2017 everyone should have easy online access to all their pension information in one single place of their choice, yet the practicalities of making that happen are very complex. The prototype demonstrates once and for all that the technological hurdles can be overcome.”

Pensions minister Richard Harrington adds:This project has enormous potential to help people keep track of their pension and make the most of their hard earned savings, and I believe will be a transformational tool in providing the necessary information to people throughout their working lives to plan their retirement.”

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