Pasa urges data quality improvement to help automation

Pension schemes have been urged not to let automation be derailed by poor quality data in a white paper by the Pensions Administration Standards Association (Pasa).

In its white paper report, Spanner in the works, the group has revealed a “significant mismatch” between pension schemes understanding of their position on scheme data and the actual efforts made to improve quality.

The survey showed that whilst over 50 per cent of DB and 75 per cent of hybrid schemes had work to improve data underway, around 20 per cent and 30 per cent of these same schemes had “anything other than good or excellent data”.

The report stated that even for those schemes who know their data is not good, “it is either a) not a priority or b) there isn’t any budget for it at the moment”.

The study, undertaken in conjunction with Equiniti, also revealed that many schemes have unrealistic expectations of technology and its ability to resolve their process problems.

Over a third (34 per cent) of respondents expected increased technology to improve member experience, while a further 32 per cent expected this to lead to a reduction in administration costs.

Arguing that schemes lack awareness of what would genuinely help members, the report revealed that nine out of ten schemes have never asked members what technology they would like to see.

Commenting on the white paper, Pasa eAdmin Working Group chair, Chris Connelly, said: “Crucially, there is an interesting anomaly apparent in the research - a high demand for technology, but low – or lower – interest in high quality data; and this is despite obvious gaps in knowledge and, by the schemes’ own admission, data.

“This key outcome indicates that demand for new technology to improve the governance of scheme administration, speed up services, reduce errors and enable easy access to pensions is impeded by exposure to poor data quality.

“As an industry, we need to work together to overcome this. It requires a new approach for schemes to adopt– in partnership with their advisers and providers – to leverage the available technology and achieve better governance levels for the good of all their members.”

The report also revealed a “worrying” lack of awareness of data, with only 18 per cent of DC schemes aware of their common data, and 9 per cent aware of their scheme specific scores.

However, DB schemes showed more awareness as the “most enthusiastic group”, with 56 and 38 per cent of DB schemes aware of their common data and scheme specific scores respectively.

The report stipulated that, while smaller schemes registered an awareness of lower quality data, fewer of them were working to make any improvements, with only 41.6 per cent of smaller schemes (500 to1000 members) and 38.4 per cent of micro schemes (fewer than 500 members) undertaking data improvement work.

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