I've been asked as the co-founder and MD of two-year-old fast-growth workplace pension provider Smart Pension, to join a tech panel to discuss what the dashboard might mean in terms of innovation.
The Phase Two dashboard, which will allow employees to be able to see all the pension pots they have collected over the course of their working life, is due to be ready in 2019.
This will include all future pots created under the new auto enrolment rules, which many small businesses are setting up right now. The industry has recognised that people moving jobs regularly will now carry with them several pots that they will want to be in charge of into the future. At the moment, this is quite complicated. The dashboard should solve this.
But one of the really exciting things about the dashboard is its potential to accelerate innovation in an industry that has seen little dynamism for decades.
The finished product will offer the ability for providers to incorporate regulated and accurate SMPI calculations (a tool that will be able to calculate how much a pension will be worth), for example, based on real-time values which will lead to greater transparency around fees and comparative costs. This will massively add benefit to the consumer, removing a lot of the painful edges that currently exist in the consumer’s relationship with their pension provider – or indeed providers.
There is also obviously the potential for members to want to consolidate their pension pots once they have seen their pension report - and in turn this could lead to innovation around plugging in adjacent players to offer regulated services such as advice and planning.
When we built Smart Pension, we were considered innovators because we made sure employers could sign up their entire workforce via their smart phone or tablet in under half an hour. In just under two years we’ve gone from zero to 200,000 members and we can deliver value and affordability because we built and own our own Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).
My view is that the dashboard tech itself is actually fairly straightforward. The more complicated element is the level of political intervention around competition and regulation to protect consumers and their data and ensure they get the right advice as the technology opens up new possibilities. The theoretical prototype has been delivered on time but in my view the 2019 deadline for phase two will come and go and I expect the Government will need to intervene to move things along.
My firm Smart Pension was awarded a 5-star rating by independent research company Defaqto in recognition of its innovative and highly automated platform, as well as Master Trust Assurance Framework accreditation (MAF) and it is a featured provider on TPR’s website.