Opinion  

Elusive pensions dashboard could be within our grasp

Ben Cocks

Here are two industry initiatives that at first glance seem unrelated.

The first is the Tax Incentivised Savings Association’s project to create an industry wide financial services digital passport based on the good work from Open Identity Exchange and Gov.UK Verify.

This will allow consumers to use one copy of their personal details held with a chosen identity provider to sign up for many financial services providers without going through all the current ‘know your customer’ and anti-money laundering shenanigans. This is a great idea and I’d encourage more of you to support it.

The second is the Department for Work and Pensions’ small pots or ‘pot-follows-member’ policy, whereby an employee’s pension will automatically be moved to their new scheme when they change jobs (subject to certain conditions).

To implement this, the DWP has proposed a federated model of multiple pension registers, each holding the details of thousands of pension policies for the administrators who have chosen to use that register.

Those administrators can then ask their register provider to search all the other registers for pension policies belonging to new employees and then automatically transfer those to the new scheme. Again, this is a great idea and I’d encourage more of you to support it.

But if we combine these two initiatives, a service could be created where a customer signing up with a new platform could ask it to find all their pension policies.

The platform could sign up with one of the pension registers (whose remit would have to be increased from small pots to all pots!) which could trawl all the other registers for matches in the safe knowledge that the personal details used had been verified by a nationally agreed approach.

The list of pensions could then be presented to the customer, who could pick which ones to transfer at the click of a button. The pensions dashboard which seemed so ethereal is suddenly within our grasp. This is a great idea (even though I say so myself) and I’ll be encouraging more of you to support this too.

That would have been a good sentence to end on, but I feel compelled to add that all the initiatives above are based on open standards and multiple, competitive, interoperable technology suppliers.

The famously uncompetitive financial services industry needs to wake up to this approach and quit the centralised monopolistic technology infrastructure that is crippling the industry’s attempts to modernise.

But I’ll leave that crusade for another blog.

Ben Cocks is software products director at Altus