Pension professionals 'overwhelmingly sceptical' of dashboard timeline

More than three-quarters (78 per cent) of pension professionals are not confident that the pensions dashboards will be completed on target in two years' time, according to research from the Pensions Management Institute (PMI).

The survey also found that 56 per cent of respondents believe their scheme or the scheme they advise will be able to provide the required data for the dashboards in 2023, while more than a third (36 per cent) are doubtful that they can meet this deadline.

The PMI highlighted this as suggestion that there has been a “significant loss of confidence” that schemes will be able to provide the data for the dashboards as scheduled, with pension professionals "overwhelmingly sceptical" that the deadline will be met.

Around half (51 per cent) of pension professionals said that the resources involved in delivering the dashboard was an obstacle in meeting the deadline, while just under half (46 per cent) cited costs.

The quality of data needed was also highlighted as an obstacle by 44 per cent of respondents, and nearly two-fifths (39 per cent) stated that the format of the data required was an issue.

However, despite these concerns, more than half (61 per cent) of respondents were satisfied with the direction of pensions policy over the past six months, with the actions of The Pensions Regulator also receiving approval from 62 per cent of respondents.

In addition to this, 57 per cent stated that they are confident that TPR will focus on the right areas in the second half of the year, whilst 50 per cent are optimistic about the direction of policy for the remainder of the year.

Chair’s Statements for defined contribution (DC) schemes were highlighted as one policy area that could be addressed during the next six months, following the Department for Work and Pension's (DWP) recent post implementation review on DC governance requirements, which recognised that statements are not working well.

In particular, the PMI found that the most popular idea in order to improve the process would be to divide the statement into two separate documents, one of which would be consumer facing while the other would be used to record a scheme’s regulatory activity.

Commenting on the findings, PMI president, Lesley Alexander, said: “The introduction long-awaited pensions dashboard will be a seismic shift in the pensions industry. Hopefully, it will lead to a significant increase in the public's engagement with their pension and allow for more effective retirement planning.

"However, our research suggests the industry faces some significant hurdles before it is launched.

“The main stumbling blocks are likely to be the cost of providing the data and the resources required. Despite these challenges, the benefits of getting the dashboard over the line ought to outweigh the cost of its development.

“To ensure the dashboard is delivered efficiently, it is important that the Pensions Dashboard Programme works closely with all those involved in the industry in meaningful collaboration and sharing best practice.”

PMI director of policy and external affairs, Tim Middleton, added: “There still seems to be no clear agreement as to what kind of service the first version of the dashboard is to provide: whether it will it seek just to trace where members’ accrued benefits are held or provide information about the benefits themselves remains unclear.

“Resolving this would at least provide some clarity for the public.”

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