Dale Critchley: What can the UK learn from the Danish Dashboard?

Denmark has had a pensions dashboard for 20 years – there is much the UK can learn from the way it has increased engagement says Aviva technical reform manager Dale Critchley

Recently, Aviva invited Michael Rasch to speak to our workplace pension team. Michael works for PensionInfo, which runs the Danish version of the pensions dashboard. While the UK pensions dashboard isn’t due for launch until 2019, Denmark created its 20 years earlier – although to be perfectly honest it didn’t really take off until 2008.

Michael gave us a fascinating insight into how a pensions dashboard can boost engagement with savers. In a country of 5.7 million people, the dashboard has 1.2 million registered users who in 2016 logged in a combined 3.2 million times. Michael also revealed that the record for log-ins to the dashboard by a single user in one year was 900! He also gave an interesting example of how harnessing the power of the media has increased engagement. In 2012 the dashboard saw the highest usage in its history in a surge that was at least partly due to a TV show about missing or unclaimed pensions.

While the details of the UK dashboard are still being ironed out, it was interesting to see how quickly a well developed dashboard can pull in the necessary data. In a live demonstration it took less than 60 seconds for data from five different providers to be displayed, up to date and in real time. When you see something like that you start to see why the UK pensions industry is hoping that the dashboard is going to be the key that unlocks consumer engagement.

The Danish dashboard also allows you to not only see your pension pots, but also start to model what those funds could provide in the future. The user can change certain assumptions to see what impact that has on their retirement plans and download pension reports which can then be used for mortgage and loan applications, or shared with your pension provider.

The Danish dashboard also gives users details of their protection insurances, both individual and the ones they get from their employer. However, there are a couple of restrictions, it doesn’t enable the user to make changes to their pensions via the dashboard, or increase contributions or consolidate pots.

Here are the lessons I feel we can learn from Denmark:

  • Patience: the Danish dashboard wasn’t an instant hit. It was first built in 1999, but it wasn’t until a relaunch in 2008 that it really took off.
  • Simplicity: certain functionality may not be there, but getting all of your pension info on a page in real time will be a big step in the right direction.
  • Pragmatism: the Danish dashboard can access the vast majority of pensions in Denmark, but not all. It doesn’t make it a failure.

Anything that helps boost engagement should be welcomed as knowledge of pensions is pretty low. Aviva’s research found recently that less than a quarter of people understand the tax benefits of having their bonus paid into their pension, i.e. that they would receive tax relief on it. The dashboard could be our best chance yet to help improve this situation.