Paul Noone, Head of Onboarding at the Pensions Dashboards Programme, reports on the progress made to date in creating an onboarding strategy and what pension providers need to do next.
I joined the Pensions Dashboards Programme in December 2020, as Head of Onboarding. As someone who has spent the last thirty years working in the industry, I understand the challenge of co-ordinating millions of individual pensions from thousands of pension arrangements into pension dashboards. While it’s a sizeable challenge, it’s dwarfed by the size of the opportunity in enabling individuals to access their pension information online, securely and in one place.
At the Pensions Dashboards Programme we are liaising with the pensions industry to support the creation of legislation from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and its implementation by the regulators: the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and The Pensions Regulator (TPR). Our role is primarily to provide the required technical standards and specifications so that providers can successfully connect to the dashboards ecosystem.
Since joining, I’ve been building on the work done in 2020 and the publication of the data standards in December. I’ve spoken to many organisations across the industry to understand their approach and what they are doing to get dashboard ready.
What’s clear is that, despite the industry facing a number of other challenges, it is beginning to focus on what needs to be done and the level of engagement with the Programme has been very encouraging.
The quality and availability of data will be key for the success of the programme and a great deal of work was done with industry last year, which culminated in the publishing of the data standards.
Data can be broken into two key constituents:
- find data – the data required to digitally match individuals to pension records
- view data – the minimum information about each found pension that should be displayed
Our engagement to date shows a high level of confidence that find data is present and has a high degree of accuracy, although we recognise this will be more difficult for some sectors of the industry.
View data presents more challenges but organisations are devoting significant effort to cleanse and better prepare view data ahead of connecting to the dashboard ecosystem.
We recommend that organisations continue to work on their data, so it is in the best shape possible ahead of connection to pensions dashboards.
Systems preparation and the use of Integrated Service Providers (ISPs)
When a user wants to see their pensions on a dashboard, a find request will be sent to all pension providers, so they can establish if they hold a pension for that individual. This will require organisations to understand how best to cater for this demand.
In our conversations to date, most organisations are looking to apply an ISP/data integration layer to sit between their core systems and the pensions dashboards ecosystem.
This approach has a number of potential advantages but there may still be considerable work to implement an ISP solution. Organisations may need to map individual data items to the ISP solution and test the data flow in advance of connecting to dashboards. Organisations that use multiple administration platforms could need to repeat this process each time.
We recommend that providers, which have not yet begun to identify a strategy for connecting to the dashboard ecosystem, should work with their system team or provider and/or their pension administration team or supplier, to understand the options available and begin work on the best solution.
To assist with this, we will be issuing further details in due course on the technical architecture for the ecosystem. This will allow providers to better understand how to integrate with the dashboard ecosystem.
We also recognise that providers will need further information to allow them to plan and prepare for what is required and we will release further information at regular intervals to assist with this planning.
We are keen to speak to providers or individual pension arrangements, which may wish to participate in the voluntary onboarding phase. This is where a small number of providers will opt to connect to the ecosystem early, in order to test the systems. Voluntary onboarding will take place, following the successful procurement of the digital architecture.
Our discussions to date have identified a number of organisations and schemes, which are keen to explore further the opportunity to participate as a volunteer. We will continue to refine our onboarding plans as we progress through the next stage of the programme and work with our chosen architecture supplier to finalise our preparation for voluntary onboarding. Should any organisations or schemes be interested in voluntary onboarding, we would welcome the opportunity to discuss this in more detail.
If you wish to contact me about any aspect of the programme, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org