Driving forward the Pensions Dashboard:
Mirror, signal, manoeuvre
31 January 2018
Mirror what the Future Pensioner wants. Greater access to information. All in one place. In simple, easy-to-understand language and format.
Signal what will happen to people’s retirement savings over time. Signpost the compulsory nature of the initiative, as well as how exactly it will benefit people once up-and-running.
Manoeuvre pensions management into the 21st century.
Patrick Collinson, writing in The Guardian, has described the attempt to bring 64 million pension pots under one roof as “one of the most ambitious IT projects ever undertaken in financial services”. Guy Opperman, Pensions Minister, has called it “revolutionary”. But what exactly is the Pensions Dashboard?
Put simply, the Pensions Dashboard is a one-stop digital portal for individuals to access and view their pensions and savings information. From the ‘go-live’ date of 2019, the aim is to have every pension pot in Britain online, allowing people to see all of their entitlements in one place.
The one-job career is – outside of certain industries – largely a thing of the past. The government says the average person has 11 different jobs in their working lifetime. We know that people nowadays typically chart a more varied path through professional life, and tools are needed to reflect this new reality. The Pensions Dashboard will therefore integrate information from pension providers and the government’s National Insurance Database.
This is undoubtedly a great concept. We now need a reinforced commitment from the government to turn this pipedream into a panacea. People are not on their own in having to deal with these issues, but the message that “we are all in this together” must be clearly communicated.
Opperman’s use of the word “revolutionary” shows just how transformative government would like the dashboard system to be. But it is another element of Opperman’s comments that has piqued interest among my colleagues and clients alike.
“A well-designed … pensions dashboard has the potential to enhance consumer engagement and help people make better decisions.”
This strikes all the right chords, and aligns exactly with the aims of LCP’s Future Pensioner campaign. Enticing engagement by empowering people to take control of their future – through better financial education, savings knowledge, use of technology and awareness of the future landscape – is the raison d’etre for Future Pensioner.
Learning lessons from the past
Simplifying pensions by collating information from various providers was attempted in 2001, but the ‘Combined Pensions Forecast’ struggled to get off the ground due to technical challenges. We don’t want the same thing to happen with the Pensions Dashboard, so this cannot simply ‘go-live’ without being properly road-tested. It must ultimately be compulsory, too, or its effectiveness will be lost.
Greater compulsion in pension saving, generally, is another tool for raising engagement. The Australian system features more compulsory elements, and Australians benefit from more intimate knowledge of the value of their savings, as well as where they are invested. The UK could take note.
Bearing in mind the previous failure to launch such an initiative, alarm bells are already ringing around the Pension Dashboard’s timeframe for implementation, with 2019 looking like it may be overly ambitious. Our plea, here, would be for arbitrary deadlines to be thrown out, in favour of getting things right. Government must avoid a mad dash to get everyone on board. By the same token, that doesn’t mean pushing back implementation to 2027. We need ongoing, tangible progress and credible output to reassure individuals that the dashboard will help them.
Done well, the dashboard has the potential to take engagement to the next level, capitalising on peoples’ appetite for digital financial tools. While this should be a tool to inspire the tech-savvy, it must also be simple enough for the non-technologically-minded to navigate.
The end-goal is again to inspire and empower people to track how much they have in their private and workplace pensions, and, vitally, to allow people to plan and make more informed decisions for their retirement.
Look out for my next blog where we will signpost the road ahead for implementation as the current 2019 deadline draws ever closer.