What will pensions dashboards mean for employees in the future?


In its 2016 Budget, the Government said pension providers would soon be required to provide pension dashboards for their members. In theory, such dashboards would make it more straightforward for pension savers to see all their savings in one place. 

Car dashboard speeding

This announcement marked the start of the pension dashboard project1, the Government stating it wanted the service to be available to consumers by the end of 2019. However, with us already in May, perhaps it’s time we looked at any progress made in this area.

First, why are pensions dashboards a priority?
Over time, pensions have become increasingly complicated for the individual to manage, due to both the decline of the final salary pension scheme and the implementation of automatic enrolment, both placing an increasing focus on private pensions over the state pension. So, with pension savers now required to take more of an active role in their retirement planning, the introduction of a tool that means they can see all their savings in one place should, hopefully, help!

To make the end-of-2019 plan happen, a group of businesses from across the pensions industry have been working with Government, regulators and technology companies to create a prototype. They’ve also been looking at what rules and regulations would need to be in place to enable the dashboards. 

Why is this service not already available?
Most pension providers offer online access to scheme members, so it’s not unreasonable to assume this kind of offering was already available. The reality, however, is the UK pension system is highly complex, with different providers and varying types of pension. This, coupled with historic ways of record keeping, means it is very difficult to get all pensions operating on the same system. Add to this the need to ensure data protection rules are complied with, and you start to grasp the significant project being undertaken.

What progress is being made?
So far, the cross-industry project team has been working with the Government as well as technology experts to create this prototype. Further, during a parliamentary debate on 6 February, Pensions Minister Guy Opperman confirmed the Government will require schemes to provide data for it, and that more details would be provided by the Department of Work and Pensions in its response to a dashboard feasibility study consultation, which it expects to publish shortly2

In the meantime, what can members do to keep track of their retirement savings?
Registering for online access is a really important step for employees who wish to engage more with their pension. Typically, this allows them to see the value of the pension, where it is invested and a ‘projection to retirement’ estimate. An online state pension forecast can also be obtained through the Government website3.  

If employees are unsure what pensions they have, the Government also provides an online pension-tracing service4 to help them track down the providers of their pensions should they wish to contact them. 

Summary
If the pensions dashboard project remains on course, we will hopefully see the launch later this year. This should represent a positive development for pension savers, with some industry experts suggesting such dashboards may give members:

  • a better understanding of their likely finances in retirement
  • a clearer grasp of the need for financial advice
  • motivation to review their pension contributions
  • a more proactive role in managing their retirement

For now, all we can do is watch this space for more updates as and when they become available, especially as employees will want to take advantage of the simplification of managing their pensions where and when they can!

The author is Nick Howarth, Employee Benefits Consultant at Mattioli Woods.

This article is provided by Mattioli Woods.

References

  1. Pensions Dashboard Prototype Project, 2019 
  2. Pensions dashboards: feasibility report and consultation, Department for Work and Pensions, 3 December 2018 
  3. Check your state pension, gov.uk
  4. Find your pension contact details, gov.uk 

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