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UK roundup: Pension dashboard prototype emerges

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The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has presented a model to government for the much-anticipated “pension dashboard” .

The dashboard was designed to allow consumers to view all their pension savings through one interface. The ABI led the move, co-ordinating with 17 pension firms and six technology companies in an effort to meet a 2019 deadline for implementation set by the government.

However, Duncan Howorth, chairman of ITM, one of the technology groups that contributed to the dashboard’s development, said some providers could still be reluctant to engage and provide access to data.

“Even once the technology infrastructure is designed, connecting the sheer volume of data out there is a crucial challenge that has held this development up until now,” he said.

“The dashboard prototype clearly proves that a fully functioning service is achievable but it’s just a start. A reluctance to engage may be coming from some quarters, caused in part by legacy issues, but this system will only succeed if the industry works together and agrees an approach to data sharing.”

The UK Treasury has fully endorsed the development of the dashboard, and the Department for Work and Pensions gave information to help include state pension payments in the dashboard’s data.

Howorth urged providers yet to engage with the project to voluntarily participate in the continuing work, as they might risk being forced to by the government.

“We would argue that being ‘forced’ to provide consumer benefit isn’t the smartest reputational move,” he said. “So, the sooner all parties get involved, the better for everyone. For those willing to step up to the plate, any challenges should pale into insignificance when compared to the long-term efficiencies and lower costs generated by the dashboard.”

Simon Kirby, economic secretary to the Treasury, said: “Harnessing the power of technology to give people easier access to their information will help them be more informed when planning their retirement – one of the most important financial decisions in a person’s life.” 

The prototype will be officially unveiled during the UK’s FinTech Week, beginning on 12 April.

Aon’s small scheme fiduciary model

Aon Hewitt has launched a fiduciary management service specifically aimed at UK schemes as small as £5m.

The service, called “Fruition”, will design bespoke plans for pension funds, combining growth portfolios with liability-matching portfolios. These can be designed to reflect each scheme’s liability profile, Aon Hewitt said.

Sion Cole, senior partner and head of European distribution at Aon Hewitt, said  smaller schemes’ needs were “distinctive and require services that meet them more specifically” than generic fiduciary management pooled arrangements.

“Fiduciary management has tended to be seen as an option for medium-sized schemes,” Cole added. “But for the smaller scheme, an adapted version of the established approach was needed to make it both effective for the members and economical for the scheme.”

Aon Hewitt and other investment consultants providing fiduciary services are under intense regulatory scrutiny following a report from the Financial Conduct Authority, published last year. The UK regulator has recommended investment consultants be referred to the Competition and Markets Authority for a full investigation of competition standards and pricing transparency.

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