Frank Field’s work and pensions committee is right to call for more transparency in the pensions industry and lower charges.
In fact, the report is well worth reading beyond the widely trailed soundbite that too many pension funds are making a “fat living” from savers.
This is a document worth sticking with, especially when it comes to the minefield that is the pension dashboard.
Tucked neatly away on page 24, the report notes that: "A non-commercial pensions dashboard will be a welcome, if overdue, additional tool to provide transparency."
The report goes on to state that, by the end of this year, the Government should "publish a timetable for the roll-out of a non-commercial pensions dashboard" and also recommends "that the pensions dashboard should feature retirement income targets to ensure the information is meaningful to its users."
Nuance matters here: both the committee and the government are on the same page regarding the overall approach to the dashboard. But the committee chose to focus the bulk of its conclusions on the need for a non-commercial dashboard and the timeline for its delivery, and we are with the committee on this one.
The priority should be delivering a non-commercial dashboard.
If other providers want to mirror that dashboard on their own systems then, that is fine but developing that functionality should not come at the expense of getting the Money and Pensions Service dashboard being built.
The case for focusing on a non-commercial dashboard product build, which includes state pension data, is strong.
As we argued in our own report earlier this year, Delivering Pensions Dashboards in the Public Interest, a single non-commercial dashboard has the advantages of avoiding sales pitches and offering a consistent and impartial service to consumers.
We hope that MaPS, together with the industry, will build a public dashboard intended to be the focus of the sector’s efforts.
Yes, that means industry working together to ensure that data on the dashboard is as complete as possible.
But it also means that the MaPS dashboard should be fully featured, perhaps acting as a gateway to MaPS pensions guidance role and featuring a full array of retirement planning tools and calculators.
It also means a determination on the part of the project team that the MaPS dashboard should not be outshone by commercial rivals.
We anticipate that at some point it will make sense to open dashboards up further, something Delivering Pensions Dashboards in the Public Interest anticipated. That could mean building functionality that allows people to transact on dashboards, allowing fund switching or enabling transfers.
That needs to proceed with extreme care: we do not yet know how people will respond to being sold complex financial products in this way.
We know they tend to overweight past investment performance, when taking decisions and underweight the impact of fees.