Data quality is pensions dashboard’s ‘weakest link’

Holly Roach reports...

The quality and availability of data is the “weakest link” for the pensions dashboard, according to the Society of Pension Professionals (SPP).

The firm’s survey on the pensions dashboard project revealed almost half (45%) of its members see data quality as the greatest difficulty facing the dashboard. This was followed by it having enough functionality to be useful (19%).

Other respondents believed the biggest challenges are technical and security issues, and expectations of politicians, media and members, at 13% and 11% respectively.

Of the dashboard project, the SPP said it “fully supports the concept”, but revealed it has “concerns about how it will play out and the risks to the project”.

A clear consensus in the results was that getting the majority of schemes and members onto the dashboard is more important than ensuring data is complete. This was particularly the case for pension administrators, with 94% favouring member engagement over complete data.

The not-for-profit revealed having initial clarity over objectives for the dashboard is “crucial”, and objectives “will evolve” over time.

The results also revealed nearly half (45%) of its members do not agree the pensions dashboard should be integrated into banking apps.

The SPP noted: “With the dashboard now being overseen by the Money and Pensions Service, the recognition of pensions as just one form of saving is clear. Add to that the idea that ‘open pensions’ is just an extension of ‘open banking’ and an obvious question arises of whether pensions should be integrated into banking apps.”

However, it revealed: “For many in the pensions industry, a pension scheme has a special place, distinct from other forms of saving.”

Just over a quarter (29%) of respondents agreed it should be integrated into banking apps, and a further quarter were unsure.

Additionally, 73% said the priority coverage of the dashboard should be for all members but with a limited set of data, while just one fifth said the priority should be coverage for limited members but with full data available for those select members to view.

Pension scheme data ‘not good enough’ for dashboard

The SPP noted that “a key challenge for the dashboard is that it cannot do everything at the outset”, and revealed the industry needs to now make decisions about scheme and member coverage.

It also said it is “vital that the vision for the dashboard is more clearly defined and properly articulated so that all parties – whether members, pension providers, journalists or politicians – have a common view of what is expected”.

This comes after the Queen’s speech in October confirmed the introduction of regulations for the pensions dashboard in the pension schemes bill, which will now face more delay as the UK gets set for its third general election in five years on 12 December.