The Pensions Dashboards Programme (PDP) has published its second progress update report – setting out a timeline for the development of the project.
The PDP - set up by the Money and Pensions Service and led by Pensions Policy Institute chief executive Chris Curry - has the responsibility for designing and implementing the ecosystem which will make pensions dashboards work.
In the update released this morning, the PDP said the "dashboards available point" the moment the dashboards will be ready to be offered to consumers would come in phase four of the project, currently scheduled to take place from 2023.
It said the first version of data standards were due to be published in December 2020.
This progress report follows what the PDP said was "extensive engagement" with government, regulators, industry, suppliers and consumer advocates and comes alongside the publication of a summary of findings from its call for input exercise on data standards as well as qualitative research with schemes and providers conducted by PwC.
PDP principal Chris Curry said: "As we set out a timeline for the delivery of pensions dashboards, which will enable people to see their pensions information online, securely and in one place, we are grateful for the industry's valuable input to date which has helped us develop a robust roadmap for development.
He added: "While dashboards are a simple concept, the delivery of dashboards will be complex and is reliant on collaboration between the PDP and many other organisations across government, regulators, dashboard providers, pension schemes and providers to complete actions at a specific time.
"Already, through the qualitative research and the call for input, industry has provided useful insight into the challenges of verifying people's identities and matching them to pensions. We are working on defining our requirements for this, which will provide greater clarity. We will continue to work with industry to find and develop robust solutions to these and other challenges."
Minister for pensions and financial inclusion Guy Opperman added: "Pensions dashboards will revolutionise retirement saving which is why it's vital we get them right. I'm encouraged by the progress on the project to date, the sensible timetable for development incorporating testing, rigour and refinement, and the continued collaboration driving this forward.
"Bringing information to savers at the touch of a smartphone screen will transform how we all think about and plan our pensions, improving financial resilience for later life."
Timeline for development of the pensions dashboard
Source: The Pensions Dashboard Programme
However while the industry welcomed the updated and was pleased the project was progressing, many urged for the programme to go quicker.
Smart Pension director of policy Darren Philp said: "Dashboards are a much needed part of the pensions ecosystem and are now long overdue. We very much hope the momentum that's been building continues and accelerates further.
"While we understand the complexities involved in delivering dashboards, we would like to see the programme go quicker and believe that the saver shouldn't have to wait until 2023 to have the beginnings of the dashboard. Technology is changing the way we think about pensions and the industry needs to develop and invest in the infrastructure that makes this stuff second nature."
Royal London pension specialist Helen Morrissey agreed. She said: "After already progressing at a snail's pace for some time it is hugely disappointing to see this project further delayed.
"Of course such projects are complex but the potential that dashboards have to help people take control of their retirement planning is huge and must be grasped. Every delay risks letting down a generation of savers."
The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association, however, backed the project timeline as "clear and reasonable" and one that would give schemes time to prepare for onboarding.
Director of policy and research Nigel Peaple said: "The PLSA and its members have been calling for a clear and reasonable project timeline that gives them the certainty they need to prepare for onboarding. Therefore, I am delighted to see that today's update report provides a high-level timeline for the programme as a whole.
"PLSA research suggests that most (75%) pension schemes - both DC and DB - believe they will need up to two years to prepare for onboarding. The fact that mandatory onboarding will not begin until 2023 is a recognition of the significant challenges schemes and providers will face in preparing their data. I am pleased to see that these challenges are clearly articulated in the PDP's call for input response and the PwC research the programme has published."
ITM director Matt Dodds agreed. He said: "Naturally, when something that can have such a positive impact as dashboards is on the horizon, there is a desire to reach it as quickly as possible. However, feedback from the industry suggested that two years was a realistic timeframe to get operationally and data ready. It's refreshing therefore to see a big government initiative listen to the industry that it has engaged with and share an informed and realistic timeframe."
He added: "It seems people are jumping straight to the compulsion date and ignoring the fact that a dashboard will be up and running a year prior. Contributors don't need to wait for compulsion to implement their data management plans & data sharing strategies that they need to onboard successfully.
TISA head of retirement Renny Biggins said the industry should not wait until the dashboard is deployed to do more to engage consumers.
He said: "While the dashboard has great potential moving forward, we shouldn't be pinning all our hopes on it and should be considering other solutions to improve engagement now. The introduction of the simpler annual statement is a good example of things we can do to make things easier for consumers to engage and understand what they are being sent.
"Small bitesize communications with consistency in our language are needed to give consumers some confidence. Let's not wait for the dashboard and if it is to be delayed, we have the opportunity to improve our communications and make them meaningful, so when the dashboard does come along, we have a more engaged market which will increase the number of people who will use the dashboard."