Pension scheme data ‘not good enough’ for dashboard

Holly Roach reports...

The pensions dashboard project could be derailed by poor data held by workplace pension schemes, delegates at the PLSA conference heard.

Speaking at the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association’s annual conference in Manchester yesterday (16 October), a panel of pension administration experts said some schemes did not know what state their member data was in and others “fibbed” about quality.

Panel members said cleaning data and improving member engagement were the top priorities for the industry in 2020.

However, they also said it was unlikely the pension dashboard project – which aims to use technology to enable savers to see all their retirement pots and state pension benefits in one place – would start in 2020.

This, they said, was down to high volumes of poor data quality across the pension landscape.

Pensions Administration Standards Association president Margaret Snowdon said: “The data is simply not good enough.

“It needs to be done right and if it’s not done right, it will be a disaster.”

She added a number of schemes “fib about their data quality”, while others “do not actually know what the quality of their data is”.

However, she commented that she was “pleased with the progress of administration so far”, but said there are always struggles “when funds are strained”.

She said to get data up to scratch, and align the pensions industry with other markets, “we need to spend £25m in four years”, and in 2020 “we need to see some big strides” to achieve this.

Universities Superannuation Scheme chief executive Bill Galvin agreed. He suggested: “There will be challenges getting from where we are now to the vision everyone has [for the dashboard].

“It will be a lengthy implementation period.”