Guest Comment: Making things clearer on pensions dashboards

Since I first joined the Pensions Dashboards Programme (PDP) as its principal, I’ve made it one of my top priorities to create a collaborative approach between the government, regulators and the pensions industry.

As part of that, I’ve looked to be open with industry about dashboards, how they will work and what the obligations will be.

Dashboards are a big undertaking for industry. At PDP, we recognise that it can sometimes be a confusing and complex process.

As pension providers and schemes move towards their different dates for connecting to dashboards, I thought it would be useful tackle some of the more frequent topics that I've discussed.

Over the next few months, I’ll be writing a series of articles to help make things clearer around some of the misunderstandings of pensions dashboards.

Dashboards are going to happen

I’ve been asked at various times when we’re going to see dashboards when sometimes they’ve seemed a long way off. The government will be laying the regulations in parliament for dashboards in the coming weeks, building on the legislation already passed to make dashboards possible.

We’ve been consulting on draft standards and have held a call for input on design standards that will set out the legal requirements that pension providers and schemes, and dashboard providers, will have to meet.

I’ve also worked closely with the previous Pensions Minister, Guy Opperman MP, who repeatedly showed his commitment to delivering dashboards and ensured the support of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Dashboards are increasingly becoming a reality, with a number of organisations already starting testing on compliance and conformance, and we’re working hard to prepare industry.

There will be more than one dashboard

It’s been the government's intention from very early on that there will be multiple pensions dashboards out there for people to choose to use.

The Money and Pensions Service, the arms-length body responsible for PDP, is creating a dashboard that will be available for anyone. At the same time, other organisations will be encouraged to create their own dashboards with approval from the Financial Conduct Authority.

The reason for having more than one dashboard is that it is important to maximise consumer interaction and allow for industry innovation. This does not mean that different dashboards will present different information to dashboard users or have different levels of coverage.

PDP is in the process of creating standards which will leave room for innovation and tailoring to clients, whilst ensuring a consistent experience for the user, no matter which dashboard they use.

What you’ll be able to do with dashboards

Dashboards will allow a user to see information on all their pensions (including state pension, workplace pensions and any personal pensions) securely and all in one place.

This will include the current value of their pensions and illustrations of how much income they could provide at retirement.

Because the service will enable users to search all connected pension providers, it will enable users to re-connect with pensions they might have forgotten about or where they have been unable to locate lost pots, as well as viewing known pensions.

Many different people will benefit from dashboards

Some people wrongly believe that only people who have a lost pension will find dashboards useful. However, we see dashboards as an invaluable tool for retirement planning for any person yet to draw on their pension. By viewing all their pension pots together in one place, people will get an overarching view of how much they have saved and what income their pensions could provide in retirement that will help to inform retirement planning.

At the same time, pension providers and schemes will also benefit from dashboards. The increased awareness of pension savings that dashboards will create new opportunities for engagement with members and customers about what they have prepared for when they leave work.

Dashboards will be free to use

The government is legislating to prevent dashboards from charging users for using dashboards to find and view their pensions. By making dashboards free to access, more people will be encouraged to use them once they are made available to the public, and to keep using them into the future.

Next time, I’ll be looking at questions around what pension providers and schemes need to do to get ready for dashboards. I’ll cover when you need to get started, what you need to do, and what help is available...

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