Pensions dashboards are the start of a journey
Carolyn Jones leads the team creating the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) pensions dashboard. She discusses how the pensions dashboard ties into the wider MaPS vision.
The Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) is building a pensions dashboard, as required by government. This is in addition to the work of the Pensions Dashboards Programme (PDP), which was established by MaPS to develop the digital architecture, governance and standards that will drive the whole ecosystem. The MaPS dashboard is what consumers can see and interact with directly, when they search for their pensions online, securely and all in one place.
At MaPS, we believe that pensions dashboards will be a really useful tool for people to find out what pensions savings they have. It is hugely exciting for me personally to be involved in the realisation of a project that has been talked about for so long. But to truly tie into the MaPS vision of everyone making the most of their money and pensions, a dashboard is just the start of the conversation we should have with our customers.
Co-ordinating with PDP
Our teams are working closely with our colleagues in PDP, to understand exactly what it is that we will need to build. It is PDP, together with government and the regulators, which is responsible for creating the design and service standards that will determine what information you’ll see on dashboards and how that will be displayed.
These standards and regulations will apply to all pensions dashboards, not just the MaPS one, to ensure a consistency of experience for users. Simply put, you’ll get the same information, irrespective of which dashboard you use. We will build to the PDP specifications and it’s also important that we co-ordinate with PDP’s programme delivery timing, so that we can support PDP with alpha and beta testing, which will help us both to iterate and improve the user experience.
Both MaPS and PDP have recently undertaken qualitative user research, which shows widespread, positive reaction to the concept of dashboards. While many people are not particularly engaged with their pensions, dashboards do contain significant potential to increase that engagement.
As PDP leads on dashboard design, its research focused on defining user needs to feed into design standards. The aim of the MaPS research was to understand what users of the dashboard may want to do with the data, to inform what we need to build around the dashboard in order to support these customer journeys and help people make good decisions.
We’re relatively agnostic about which dashboard someone uses, if it helps us achieve the goal of helping more people to plan effectively for later life. Ultimately, the more people we can get using dashboards and thinking about their retirement planning, the better. We are making both sets of research public to support this ambition.
Developing onward journeys
Dashboards will arm people with the information they need about their current retirement savings, that is they answer the question ‘What do I have?’ To support planning for the future, people will also need to answer other questions, such as What will I need? How much should I pay? and so on. Much of our recent research focuses on these onward journeys for dashboard users, to ensure that individuals get the right guidance to make decisions relating to their pensions.
We know that many people will need help with interpreting what they see. The discussion about estimated retirement income and exactly what information dashboards will display is ongoing but we know that many people can find the figures confusing. So we’re looking at developing tools and digital guidance that wrap around the dashboard, and at signposting to other guidance and advice services. It’s early days but we see the pensions dashboard as a digital entry point to all of MaPS other services.
Beyond retirement planning we need to ensure that consumers get the support the need to act safely on the information that they see on dashboards. For example, should someone decide they want to look into consolidating their pensions as a result of what they find on their dashboard, they need to know how to do that safely and avoid potential pitfalls, or worse, scammers.
As Richard James, PDP’s programme director recently said, ‘Pensions dashboards are not silver bullets’. Instead, we see pensions dashboards as the start of an information gathering process for individuals: one that leads them towards taking control of their savings and preparing effectively for their retirement.