Dashboard Project calls for compulsion – but advisers squeezed out for now

Legislation is urgently needed to compel all pension providers and schemes to supply data to the proposed pensions dashboard if the 2019 launch date is to be met, a major study by the Pensions Dashboard Project industry body has concluded.

But the Pensions Dashboard Project’s roadmap document has been accused of stifling adviser involvement by not allowing users to delegate access to their financial advisers and other agents in the early roll-out.

An 86-page paper from the Pensions Dashboard Project, co-ordinated by the ABI, has set out a series of requirements – the most pressing of which is a requirement for all schemes – including public and private sector DB schemes – and state pension to be involved from day one.

The paper also calls for dashboards to be regulated and for an implementation entity to be established to achieve delivery. The roadmap also calls for digital standards for the sharing of data.

Consumer research published with the paper shows the public want a centrally accessible, consumer-facing dashboard that is free from commercial pressures and is linked to and sponsored by the Government. But the dashboard should facilitate the sharing of data to enable third parties to provide additional tools, products and services – a concept dubbed ‘open pensions’ in the paper.

The roadmap has been criticised for proposing that delegated or proxy access for consumers’ financial advisers or family members should not be included in the first wave. The paper has proposed that adviser delegated access is not a requirement for a minimum viable product, meaning the individual would need to be present with their adviser when access was

ABI director of policy, long-term savings and protection Yvonne Braun says: “We have the support of the public and we know the technology works. It’s time for the Government to lay its cards on the table and be clear about what it is prepared to commit to this important project, and when. For such a service to succeed it needs to be as comprehensive as possible, as soon as possible, and anything which involves people’s life savings must be effectively regulated. We need a clear timetable for implementation and legislation so we can turn this great concept into a genuine public service.”

F&TRC director Ian McKenna, a member of HM Treasury’s Steering Group for the Pensions Dashboards prototype says: ““Removing adviser access from the requirement for the initial pension dashboard services and suggesting that this may only arrive in the medium term is an unnecessary and unwelcome constriction on encouraging more saving. Having told people how much their pensions will be in aggregate the natural question for them to ask will be ‘what do I do next?’ It will be helpful for consumers to be able to go to the single governance body but many will also want to go to their financial advisers.

“The report validates what I have always said which is that the ABI are the wrong organisation to manage this project; it is time to thank them for their efforts and find an impartial steward to move the project forward. The document clearly demonstrates that the ABI has put the interests of its members before two other important constituencies, fintech firms and financial advisers.

“If the project proceeds as proposed by the ABI it will, over time, seriously undermine relationships between ABI members and adviser firms. If you are an adviser, if all other elements are equal, it makes sense to do business with non-ABI members rather than firms signed up to a trade body that is clearly trying to undermine your ability to help your clients.

“If you wanted to undermine financial advice firms in the digital world this is exactly what you would do. ABI members committed to working with financial advice firms should condemn this element of this document and commit to making delegated access part of the MVP.”

Cavendish Ware associate director Roy Mcloughlin says: “Auto enrolment pensions have been such a success, people are buying into it. This should be a ‘seize the day’ moment but customers are always asking me why they are being sent so much paper? Advisers are helping consumers understand their pensions day in, day out. Denying us access to these services will undermine the value of Pensions Dashboards and seriously limit adoption”.

Origo managing director Paul Pettitt says: “The steps outlined by the ABI sets a clear roadmap for ensuring that consumers will have access to all of their pensions in one place. This requires Government to legislate that all pension providers and schemes make their data available. We therefore, urge Government to ensure the project which is in consumers best interests and so can only prove popular with them, receives the commitment and time it needs to become a reality.”

Pasa chair Margaret Snowdon says: “The report calls for Government commitment to dashboard and a timetable for its development, which will demand a great deal from hard-pressed schemes and administrators. We should approach this with positivity however, as the benefits outweigh the costs.

“Funding must also be considered and the government should now be looking at creative ways to support these essential improvements for the benefit of the nation. This will be the much needed boost to energise the industry about Dashboard and PASA looks forward to playing its part.”

Royal London director of policy Steve Webb says: “The dashboard could be the key to engaging consumers, but it risks being like a jigsaw with missing pieces.  If savers can only see some of their pensions, they will not get a complete picture and the value of the dashboard will be greatly reduced.   Even if government were simply to announce an intention to legislate to require all schemes and providers to participate, this would give fresh momentum to the project.  It will take years for some schemes to get their data in shape and the sooner they know it will be a regulatory requirement, the sooner they will start work.  Other countries have had dashboards for years, and UK consumers should not be left in the slow lane”.

Aon Employee Benefits DC proposition leader Debbie Falvey says: “If done correctly and with consumer protections at the heart of the service, the dashboard can go a long way to helping savers feel more in control. We hope that Government and the pensions industry can now collaborate to turn the great work done so far into a live service.”

Legal & General Investment Management head of DC Emma Douglas says: “The research and evidence presented in this report presents a compelling case for compulsion which we see as the next natural step in its evolution in order to realise its full potential.”