Michael Klimes examines the key recommendations from the ABI's roadmap report on the dashboard.
In May, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said it would establish and lead an interim phase of the pensions dashboard project to ensure it did not lose momentum during the election.
The interim phase looked at four key areas - an industry cost benefit analysis, research of customer needs, working out the requirements for a secure end-to-end service and further development of technical data standards.
The ABI's roadmap report - published last week - makes 10 recommendations (see box for details). The most important include government legislation to ensure all pension providers and schemes make their data available; an implementation timetable; a governance body to establish the necessary standards for all involved; and the establishment of a non-commercial, government-backed platform which will operate alongside services from third parties.
However the ABI argues these recommendations will only come through if the government takes specific action to support them.
The executive summary of the report asks the "government to confirm on the record whether delivering these recommendations is a priority and indicate whether it will compel schemes to make data available".
The ABI says the government should also "set out its views on the roles and responsibilities of the government and industry in making it happen".
The report adds the industry's involvement to fund and run the next phase or part of it and to develop firm and detailed proposals and an implementation plan depend on the government's position.
Association of British Insurers director of policy, long-term savings and protection Yvonne Braun calls on the government to urgently clarify its position.
"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," she says. "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."
AJ Bell senior analyst Tom Selby says the ABI report looks like "an attempt to kick policymakers into action".
He says: "What the industry really needs from the Government is clarity on its commitment to the Dashboard project, and the extent to which it will commit time and money to making it a reality."
People's Pension director of policy Darren Philp agrees that, now the interim phase of the dashboard has been concluded, the government needs to commit to the project for it to move forward.
He says: "The conclusion of this phase of the project marks an important milestone in the overall development of the pensions dashboard. We are calling on the government to make a firm commitment to back the dashboard and legislate to ensure it has full adoption and is actually useful to savers."
HSBC Bank Pension Trust chief executive Elizabeth Renshaw-Ames says she hopes the government will build on the "tremendous commitment" from the pensions industry to continue the development of the dashboard.
"I very much hope that government will step up to support the project conclusions, in particular that compulsion through regulation is necessary to ensure an accurate and inclusive dashboard and also to back the formation of an implementation authority to ensure appropriate governance for the dashboard," she says.
The Pensions Administration Standards Association (PASA) - which has been working with the dashboard's project team to help create the emerging standards - also urges the government to continue its support.
PASA chairwoman Margaret Snowdon comments: "It is clear that strong governance will be key to the success of dashboard, and compulsion will be necessary in the long run. 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."
Snowdon added: "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.
Like PASA's Snowdon many in the industry believe a dashboard is achievable and that the benefits outweigh the costs.
Aon Employee Benefits DC proposition leader Debbie Falvey says: "The latest report from the dashboard initiative clearly demonstrates that a comprehensive dashboard service is achievable and that savers would welcome the service and help," she 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."
Scottish Widows head of policy Peter Glancy says the dashboard could lead to a breakthrough in terms of consumer enagement.
He says: "The pensions dashboard makes it possible for customers to see all of the pension assets and entitlements which they have accumulated, in one place.
"This would facilitate an absolute breakthrough in engagement as people have a meaningful summary at their fingertips and making it much easier, quicker and cheaper for financial advisers to support customers in the run up to retirement."
Standard Life head of pensions strategy Jamie Jenkins agrees: "The dashboard launch will provide people with a clearer view of all their pension savings, making it easier for everyone to make important decisions and manage their money.
"It will be a game-changer for those who want to take control of their pension savings, whether they're being auto-enrolled on starting their first job, or nearing their retirement."
Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association director of external affairs Graham Vidler also thinks the dashboard will be a positive step. He says: "More than three quarters of people (78%) admit they are not sure or do not know where to look to tell if they are on track with their retirement savings. The pensions dashboard will help to manage this very real problem and help savers to feel more in control and engaged with their pension savings."
He adds: "The dashboard has the potential to bring pensions into the digital age."
1. All pension providers and schemes must make data available to consumers via regulated third parties, including occupational, personal and public service pension schemes. This compulsion requires a legislative change and a completion date stated by government.
2. Department for Work and Pensions must make data about the state pension available alongside private pension information from day one.
3. A non-commercial service, endorsed by the government, must be made available.4. To enable innovation, the government must enable an "open pensions" infrastructure that allows consumers to access their data via regulated third parties.
5. Dashboards and any other third party services showing consumers their data must be regulated to ensure consistency. Consumer protection requires legislation to establish one or more new regulated activities, which are most likely to be overseen by the Financial Conduct Authority.
6. There must be an implementation plan and timetable, endorsed by government and industry, including an approach to funding implementation and a major programme of communications.
7. An implementation entity must be charged with delivering the service and its governance. This will include establishing a governance body which oversees the network, establishes and manages data standards, is accountable for data security and setting up data sharing agreements. It must also be sustainably funded.
8. Data must be made available in a standardised digitally consumable format. This needs agreed standards, which are being delivered by industry, but which must be mandated by government and regulators.
9. An infrastructure must be set up to link schemes to dashboard providers so that consumers can find their pensions. This requires the government's backing.
10. An identity assurance scheme must be agreed. This requires a policy decision about the use of Verify in this context.
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