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The latest on the Pension Dashboard

IPSL June 2020 Image 3

Do you remember the buzz generated by the prospect of a Pensions Dashboard that would keep all our pensions information updated and together in one place?

In the words of the project’s Principal – Chris Curry of the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) – “The vision of the Pensions Dashboards Programme could not be simpler – to enable individuals to access all their pensions information online, securely and all in one place, thereby supporting better planning for retirement and growing financial wellbeing”.

The reality

The vision may be crystal clear; the reality is somewhat murkier. That is in large part because of the size and complexity of the project and the large number of permutations and combinations that it needs to manage.

The reality embraces a population of some 52 million adults that need to be included in any dashboard. That population has access to a total of around 40,000 potential pension schemes and their providers. The numbers make for a more than challenging set of possible permutations.

The challenge is proving to be time-consuming. The Pensions Dashboard Prototype Project, for example, was completed as long ago as October 2018.

This confirmed the widely held support for such a platform. A pensions dashboard would show you how much you have saved in all your pension schemes so far and give you an estimate of how much they might be worth in the future.

So, the prototype revealed that those who would end up using the dashboard wanted information displayed about all their pensions. With that end goal, the dashboards, therefore, need to provide information about every pension scheme in which an individual may ever have been involved, rather than just a few key schemes.

The data

The data from the 52 million potential users of any pensions dashboard includes data that is historic and may have been collected many years ago.

Paper records – not to mention missing files – may make the collation, tracing, verification, and amendment of historic data practically impossible. Yet some attempt at doing so clearly needs to be made if the prototype’s wish-list is to be satisfied.

Although more recent records are easier to verify, the more water that flows under the bridge, the more difficult this will be – and further delays and difficulties have naturally been caused by the disruption to work caused by Covid-19.

Whether they are old records or new, different pension schemes provide different information in any number of formats. The differences are not only those arising from the more obvious, fundamental variances – such as between defined contributions and defined benefits – but also from how individual schemes order their information, data and, records.

Any usable dashboard will need to take onboard these fundamental differences by melding them into a common, standard format that generates consistent information that is both simple to use and understand.

All the while, there remain inevitable differences – if not tensions – between the final objectives of any public service dashboard and those alternatives provided by the private sector, the two continue to develop side by side, and a successful outcome is likely to depend on their working in concert and harmony rather than opposition.

Here at Independent Pension Specialists we support the development of a fully functioning pensions dashboard. Giving people access to the most fundamental information about their pension arrangements provides the building blocks for successful retirement planning.

The data used in this article is correct as at the time of writing.

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