Concerns raised about structure and ‘over ambition’ of pensions dashboards

The proposed basic structure of the pensions dashboards is “ill-conceived” and the infrastructural concept is “questionable” on a technical level, according to Premier Pensions head of administration, Girish Menezes.

Although he praised the dashboards as an “excellent initiative” that the pensions industry is fully supportive of, Menezes stated that coupling the multi-layered access system with the “over ambitious” objectives was not the solid foundation that was hoped for.

“In creating an additional unnecessary layer of complexity by using Integrated Service Providers (ISPs), most pension administrators will have to leverage intermediate data consolidators, rather than integrate directly with the government dashboard,” he continued.

“This creates additional cost and risk. The government, already holds all key personal information through the tax system, as well as a secure government gateway. It would be easier for pension administrators to build on this, rather than farming the integration to an unnecessary new industry layer.”

Menezes added that the government’s ambitions to build a number of “complex” requirements into the initial phase of the dashboards project could create an “IT nightmare”, unless it is phased appropriately.

“The proposed roll out between 2023-25 to schemes with over 1,000 members involves connecting a large number of administrators to a dashboard, potentially responding to millions of queries and producing and sending out Estimated Retirement Illustrations to every individual in real time,” he said.

“This is a huge undertaking in one fell swoop.”

Menezes called for a “steady, structured programme”, starting with a Pension Finder service for schemes with over 1,000 members.

“Members logging in to the Pension Finder Service and seeing who holds their pensions will solve 90 per cent of the problem; being able to update their details centrally, such as a change of address, will enhance that system,” he stated. 

“Even to build this quite specific functionality by 2025, and to have tested it thoroughly, is already a mammoth task. 
 
“Coupling the multi-layered access system with the over ambitious objectives, is not the solid foundation we would have hoped, for what is essentially an excellent initiative.”

Responding to the concerns, a Pensions Dashboards Programme spokesperson said: “The Pensions Dashboards Programme is not imposing the use of ISPs and organisations have the option to connect their systems directly into the dashboards ecosystem.

"In our discussions with industry, it is clear that, to date, the overwhelming majority of organisations see merit in using an ISP solution, not least as it protects core systems from any impact on performance caused by the amount of traffic generated by dashboards requests. It also potentially enables ease of connection for smaller data providers who may lack in-house expertise to create their own solution.

“Our call for input on staging set out our proposals for connecting data providers in stages, to create a smooth process and minimise operational risk and we sought feedback on our proposals for the order and timing of these stages. We are currently analysing the feedback and will publish a summary of the findings in due course.”

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