The dashboard must be simple and based on consumer needs to be successful, Denmark and Sweden have found. Margie Lindsay looks at the lessons from the two projects.
While the UK continues to agonise over how to get a dashboard up and running - enabling everyone to view details of all of their pensions together - two Scandinavian countries have already found success with the model and can offer some advice on how to do it.
"You have some task ahead of you," noted Danish Pension Dashboard division director Michael Rasch, speaking at a Barnett Waddingham conference last month.
Denmark began its journey to introduce a pensions dashboard in 1999. At the time the general consensus was that it could not be done. Few large providers joined the project but within a year of conceiving the idea, the first version of the dashboard was ready.
Now in its fifth reiteration, the dashboard is accepted by all Danish banks and pension providers. With an annual budget of €2m (£1.8m), the dashboard has no public funding. Rasch believes the Danish experience of creating its dashboard has direct relevance for the UK project.
Keep it simple
"The key elements on our dashboard were important for us. First, keep it simple. The first version had lots of text. Now there's a lot less on screen and more layered information: click and get more," he explained.
All the information is standardised within the industry, and nothing is company specific - only standard products are shown. Users can easily create a PDF of all their data and providers.
"It's a neutral website. We don't give recommendations or advice. That's up to the providers," noted Rasch.
The construction of the dashboard is simple. Each provider delivers information about the person based on a national identification number that is used at log-in, and then has 60 seconds to deliver data in a standardised format to the website. The user can then manipulate that information, showing things like current savings level, what a person can expect to receive at retirement, lump sums, and a lifelong combined pension.
Information can be displayed in graphic or table form. The main menu gives details of each pension scheme, showing annual payments, the value of the scheme and other relevant information. The dashboard also allows users to combine information for households where two people live together.
The website has around 1.4 million users a year out of a population of 5.7 million Danes. More men (55%) use the site than women.
"We can see huge benefits for providers to have the dashboard, giving consumers an overview," acknowledged Rasch. "This is a service to consumers. They can access dormant accounts. As people change jobs, there are more pension schemes in different places so it is easier for providers to give good counselling on all the different pension schemes a user has if you have standardised information from all of them and it is comparable. This gives the customer a better service and reduces costs."
His advice to the UK is simply: "Start with something. Less is more in the first version. Don't be too ambitious. Start with a smaller number of the big defined contribution providers and then get going and build on that with new versions."
But he warned: "You need industry support. That is essential. If the industry doesn't support it, it will be tough to get it going."
Similar advice was given by MinPension (My Pension) chief executive Anders Lundström. He led the development of the Swedish pension dashboard since its launch and is also part of the expert group in the EU pension tracking project.
"It was a long and complicated process to develop the dashboard," admitted Lundström. While similar to the Danish model, the Swedes initially followed a different development but are now co-operating with Denmark, and soon Norway.
"We have a public/private partnership with the state covering 50% of the operation and development costs and board members 50%. It has not been easy all the time," says Lundström.
The dashboard has nearly 3.8 million users with more than 10 million log-ins and 20 million pension calculations so far this year.
Lundström said the Swedish dashboard was developed "more from the consumer perspective. That changed the development of the website as we were always looking at the users".
The challenge for Sweden was to engage people with low interest and knowledge about pensions covering a wide age range. From 2017 the higher interest and knowledge group was overrepresented in its use of the dashboard.
"We looked at what would attract users from the low interest and knowledge group. We introduced single sign-on, lower hurdles to get access to information, and multi-channel distribution co-operating with state and public services," said Lundström.
The website offers easy graphics, with a "pension slider" that enables users to see different results from different retirement ages. Graphics are also in table form with short explanations.
Despite the improvements there was still minimum interest from the group the dashboard wanted to target. "They wanted something else. These were people who were looking at buying a house or getting married. They wanted more content and information for self-help. We introduced new functions and formats," Lundström said.
At the same time the tools to drill down into individual pensions have improved. The projection tool, for example, can change retirement age and compare it to life expectancy, as well as comparing to different jobs, pension schemes and salary levels. It is also possible to add in state pension details.
Lundström said the dashboard was setting up a public beta version with the possibility to put in up to nine different scenarios.
"People don't understand how complicated it is to retire," admitted Lundström. "Most of the time they need to start the process two years before they want to retire. Most think about it a few weeks before retirement. It is complicated to apply for pensions. The dashboard gives a ‘to do' list and will show details of different policy schemes and due dates. We're also looking at a digital application."
"We should bring all these ideas through to the UK dashboard," declared Barnett Waddingham partner and senior client relationship manager Andy Parker. At present it is up to the individual to find and input all their pension information and they then need to keep it up to date.
"Let's not take 10 or 20 years to have something that goes even part of the way to provide what people are looking for," said Parker.
The first meeting of the Pensions Dashboard Delivery Group is this month, and the group is looking for candidates to help in the different workstreams.
"A lot of work is needed to make [the UK dashboard] happen and to make it work, but at least we are on the way," declared Parker.
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