The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has issued a written ministerial statement providing an update on the publication of connection guidance which includes the new staging timeline for connecting to pensions dashboards.

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Becoming a dashboard provider

Chris Curry, Pensions Dashboards Programme’s (PDP) Principal, summarises some of the topics discussed as part of the dashboard providers webinar.

I recently hosted a webinar to give an update to those interested in becoming a pensions dashboards provider. Raman Dhaliwal, PDP Head of Product and Caroline Donellan, Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Technical Specialist for pensions policy, joined me. We presented the current programme progress, gave an overview of what you need to know as a potential dashboard provider and an introduction to FCA authorisation and regulation. We received some interesting questions, so I’ve summarised some of the main topics we discussed in this blog.

Benefits for consumers and organisations

We want to support the growth of a market, making pensions dashboards as widely available as possible to consumers so they have the choice to decide which dashboard service best meets their needs.

We don’t expect the dashboard market to spring up overnight, but a wide choice of providers could create a series of benefits for both consumers and organisations.

Providing multiple dashboards for the consumer is a benefit of choice and convenience. Having the pensions dashboard available via an organisation where an individual already has a financial relationship would potentially allow users to view pensions information and other financial details. So just imagine looking at your pensions dashboard on the same website or app where you check your bank statement, for example, or looking at your personal savings for retirement alongside your expected pensions information.

For organisations offering dashboards, the benefit is likely to come from a deepening relationship with the customer. A bank or pension provider could enhance the relationship that they already have with an existing customer or create a new one with new customers. The pensions dashboard could help the organisation serve their existing customers better by enabling them to be more in control of their finances.

Dashboards also provide an opportunity to engage with people whilst they’re planning their retirement.

Dashboard operators will be FCA regulated

Any organisation wishing to become a dashboard provider will need to meet the qualifying criteria that will be finalised in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Regulations. They will also need to comply with technical and design standards.

Additionally, Government will amend legislation to make operating a qualifying pensions dashboard service (QPDS) a regulated activity. This means that any entity that wishes to provide/operate a QPDS must be or become FCA authorised and obtain the regulatory permission to do so.

The FCA will consult in due course on the full set of regulatory requirements and expectations for FCA authorised QPDS firms, but potential QPDS firms who are not currently authorised can begin preparing for authorisation now by considering how it will satisfy the Threshold Conditions and high-level standards in the FCA handbook that apply to all FCA regulated firms.

It’s also worth noting that timings for authorisation will be specified in the FCA consultation and they will aim to determine applications in a timely fashion and within the statutory deadline which Parliament has given. That’s a maximum of six months from the point at which a firm provides all of the information. FCA have a deadline of 12 months from when they receive the initial application. So inevitably the better the quality of the application submitted the quicker the FCA is likely to be able to reach a decision.

Standards and Pensions Dashboards Regulations

If you’ve been keeping up to date with the programme, you will have heard us refer to the standards which will provide the rules and control that will facilitate the smooth ongoing connection to pensions dashboards ecosystem. They will sit alongside the regulations with more detail and practical information about how dashboards will operate and what is required to be compliant with the Regulations.

Once the DWP Regulations are published there will be a staging timeline that will set out when schemes of certain types and sizes will be expected to connect to dashboards. You can read more information in the consultation document published in January on GOV.UK.

We’ll be publishing the proposed set of standards for consultation which will run for six weeks over the Summer. This will allow enough time for good consideration and feedback from all relevant stakeholders.

We will also be running a series of explanatory webinars alongside our consultation and will arrange to speak to some of you face to face to make sure we take on board your feedback into the final set of standards.

Dashboard providers and the use of pensions data

There will be a delegated access function, which will allow consumers to give consent for an FCA regulated adviser (with the relevant permissions to give pensions advice) or a Money and Pensions Service guider to use a dashboard to see their ‘view’ information.

The idea of presenting pensions information alongside other forms of financial information from those providers to help the consumer is an interesting one. It’s worth bearing in mind too, that we’re in the first iteration of pensions dashboards and there is a lot of work going on around open finance, so things may develop in future.

The consent and authorisation service we’re developing is an important part of pensions dashboards to make sure that the consumer is in control of their data. It will allow users to control who can see and has access to their pensions data at any particular point.

Providing technology services like ISP (Integrated Services Provider) services

The idea of an organisation creating a dashboard which can be white labelled and passed onto other organisations to offer dashboard access is an interesting one. We will need to work closely with FCA on this ahead of their consultation to explore whether or how that might be permissible from a regulatory perspective.

Sharing our learnings with industry

Over the Summer, we will continue to test the dashboard connections with our Alpha data and dashboard participants. We will share any learnings we find with industry to make sure best practice, tips, and hints that we learn from our volunteer providers and participants are useful for those connecting at a later stage. This will help to improve the process of connecting to and onboarding to dashboards.

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Pensions Dashboards Programme

Published: 30 June 2022

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