One of the major problems often cited regarding the proposed Pensions Dashboard is the difficulty pension schemes and pension providers will have in supplying the necessary data to dashboards. Yet research shows that, without full coverage, including the millions of pots in defined benefit and public sector schemes, people will not use dashboards. So, how can we ensure that all pension policies and schemes on legacy platforms, or even worse, on paper records, can get into the Dashboard ecosystem?
In Aquila Heywood's work on the Pensions Dashboard, we have taken steps to help address these issues. During the ABI prototype, we ensured that data standards were deliberately kept simple so that every pension provider and every pension scheme could easily meet the required data needs, irrespective of the type of pension. The standard was simple enough for the public to understand their pension information, and enabled schemes and providers to supply data to the Dashboard without any supplemental effort, for example, calculating the benefits. (For the record, the minimum data requirement is a pension value and a date that value was calculated.)
That still leaves the problem about transferring information in a method that is accessible to pensions dashboards. The solution to this problem is the integration service provider (ISP). An ISP is a layer between pension schemes and providers that can integrate pension systems into the Dashboard, without having to connect the systems directly.
So what qualities should a scheme or pension provider look for in an ISP? Firstly, the ISP vendor should have people that understand the industry to ensure the ISP system is designed truly to meet the needs of the pensions market. With a market-focused ISP design, any scheme or pension provider can then be confident that their data will be understood and made available to pensions dashboards with the minimum effort.
A good ISP removes the need for the pension provider or scheme to update their own platforms to integrate directly with the Dashboard ecosystem. Schemes and providers can therefore be confident that integration with the Dashboard can be achieved quickly and at low cost. The ISP will insulate data and the live administration platform from the Pensions Dashboard ecosystem. The back-office functions of the pension provider can continue uninterruptedly.
An ISP also needs to be secure – it is acting both as a store of a person's data and as an interface to a back-office system. Pension providers, schemes and all their members and customers will want to be assured that the data is being managed to a high degree of security and in a robust and monitored environment.
A good ISP will need to be trustworthy, as well. There should be no risk that your data is being shared with someone that will 'do a Cambridge Analytica' with it. A quality ISP will understand your data concerns and comply with all the relevant data protection rules. The ISP vendor must be someone that you trust and with whom you can have a positive working relationship over a period of years.
In brief, an ISP will help the pensions industry insert its data into the Dashboard ecosystem with minimal effort, at lowest risk and with maximum security. As Arthur Ashe observed:
'Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.'
A good ISP will start where you are, use the data that you have and will get you onto the pensions dashboards.