A conflict has emerged between key players seeking to bring to market the government-backed pension dashboard, amid competing announcements over who is acting for the industry.
Yesterday (30 March), technology provider Origo announced it was already building the ‘engine’ to power such a consumer portal, revealing it had the backing of big name providers Aegon, Ageas, Aviva, Axa Wealth, Friends Life, Just Retirement, MetLife, Legal & General, Prudential, Royal London, Scottish Widows, Standard Life, Unum and Zurich.
But the move surprised some in the industry, after the Tax Incentivised Savings Association revealed just last week (21 March) it has its own plans to deliver a pensions dashboard, before the 2019 target date put forward in the Financial Advice Market Review.
It said it would establish an industry run, not-for-profit facility, based on open standards to facilitate the sharing of data, use the Tisa Exchange (Tex) model as a template.
These separate announcements have left key players in the market facing the prospect of divided loyalties.
The basic premise of the pensions dashboard is for a secure website where consumers could request and then access their various disparate pension scheme pots, in order to get a better idea of their overall savings strategy.
Many of the life and pension companies backing Origo helped set up the technology provider in 1989 and still have a stake in the electronic trading systems it has created since then.
But a similar number, like Origo itself, were also present at a meeting organised by Tisa on 17 February, where 60 firms discussed the development and widespread adoption of the dashboard.
Hugo Thorman, chairman at financial services consultancy and software company Altus, said he was at that meeting and saw “enthusiastic support” from Origo, and the firms backing it, for plans to use the TeX model.
“Tisa were gauging support just last week and their open standards approach was endorsed by all in the room, so I am somewhat perplexed by this statement from Origo, who were also there and in favour.
He was critical of the move by Origo,described as “a body ultimately owned by about 15 life companies; albeit with a benign objective”.
“Open standards allow industry providers to compete to improve service and scope and reduce costs, those market pressures will be absent with a centralised system and database controlled by Origo; effectively a monopoly owned by an oligopoly,” he added.
Michael Roe, development manager at Origo, defended the company’s position, saying it has been working on a pension dashboard since early last year with support from across the pension industry, and was “disappointed” by Tisa acting “unitlaterally”.
“Tisa hosted an event on the 17 February at which we were present, where most of the attendees expressed the desire to have ‘one voice’ from the various industry bodies and specifically to avoid duplication with the work being undertaken by the Pension Finder Alpha project,” stated Mr Roe.