Dashboard data requirements should not be an 'apocalyptic ask' - ITM

Pension dashboard data requirements should not be an “apocalyptic ask”, according to ITM director, Matt Dodds, who has urged the industry to get "fully behind" the pensions dashboard.

Dodds argued that pension schemes and providers have "for too long" ignored the importance of data, but that that genuine progress is being made around the project for the first time since the prototype project in 2017.

He emphasised that whilst dashboard discussions have been “knocking about for too long” with too little progress, this is now being made, with the “right people” meeting virtually regularly.

He also highlighted that there has been “regular communication and engagement" with the market, with the Pensions Minister consistently and publicly stating that the dashboard should and will happen.

Indeed, Pensions Minister Guy Opperman wrote to pension schemes earlier this year to gather evidence on how ready they were to submit data to the dashboard, having previously warned that those who were not data-ready would face "draconian penalties".

Dodds explained that the ongoing call for input into the pensions dashboard looks at data and breadth, with a view to creating the “much quoted data standards”, emphasising that this should allow industry experts to share insight and experience to shape the data requirements.

He noted that whilst there will “always be anomalies in pensions”, such as historic scheme rules creating niche benefit tranches, this complexity is “exactly what the call for input wants the industry to think about, before it’s too late”.

He continued: “The Pensions Dashboards Programme want to get into the nitty gritty of data and identify where there may be difficulties, and work with the industry to deliver a solution.

“That’s why they launched a call for input. I don’t think this is about coming clean - it’s about working to get to an answer that’s been considered and tested."

Dodds argued that there have been “numerous industry-wide pats on the back” for maintaining operations whilst in lockdown, with talk of continued improvement whilst entering the “new normal”.

He clarified however, that digitised reliable data plays a “huge” role in creating these improved processes and efficiency, stressing that good data isn’t “just about the dashboard – not even close”.

Dodds highlighted that the wider impacts and benefits of such data are vast, including calculating accurate liabilities and creating cost effective, digital member communications.

He added: "I know this, because of the schemes and providers I work with, some are really keen to contribute to the dashboard programme.

“They tend to be the same people and organisations who want to understand how technology advances can help them work more efficiently, or how they can use data to communicate more effectively and reduce premiums on pension risk transfer transactions.

“They are the forward thinking ones who recognise that this is a step in the right direction."

He urged the industry to “look for solutions to the complex data that has been created” within the industry, stressing that the dashboard is about members and should be recognised as a positive step.

Dodds also highlighted dashboards as “a change for the better”, emphasising that, with a long economic downturn forecast, retirement savings may be needed “now more than ever”.

He added that whilst people who can see their savings may well begin to save more, adding that the industry stands to benefit too, with the dashboard helping with small pots, lost pots, and assets under management.

Dodds concluded: “Getting fully behind pensions dashboards is the best thing we can do - yes, let’s highlight issues, but let’s also find solutions so the ultimate benefit to members can be realised.”

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