Pension providers could be forced to supply customer data to a new online portal if they fail to do so voluntarily, under government plans to help savers keep track of their retirement pots.
The warning came on Monday as the Treasury said that the first version of a “Pensions Dashboard”, allowing savers to see all their pensions in one place, would be ready by March next year, paving the way for full launch in 2019.
Currently, UK pension savers are not easily able to see in one online location the various pension pots they may have built up over a working life, making it difficult to keep track of their retirement savings.
The Treasury said 11 personal and workplace pension providers would develop a prototype of the new online dashboard. These include Aviva, Aon, B&CE, HSBC, LV=, NEST, Now: Pensions, Royal London, Standard Life, Willis Towers Watson, and Zurich.
Simon Kirby, economic secretary to the Treasury, said: “We want this up and running and ready for consumers to use by 2019. What the dashboard can do is unlock a huge amount of information to inform the choices people make.”
The minister warned that the government would “look at legislation or regulation” if the industry could not agree minimum standards for the sharing of customer data — standards the industry is being left to agree along with the development of the dashboard.
The government is not currently compelling providers to participate in the dashboard by feeding their customer data into it, leaving open the prospect that some customers will not be able to see their savings in one place.
“I don’t think providers of older or legacy policies will come on board as it will not be practical for their providers to supply this data due to the age of their systems,” said Ros Altmann, former pensions minister.
“The dashboard will be a gimmick if there is not full participation by providers. What’s more important is for providers to be compelled to supply pension information to their customers on a common template, to help them work out what they have.”
Aviva, the UK’s largest pension provider, said it was the right approach at this stage not to compel providers to take part, as “too much prescription” could limit the development of solutions.
“Almost all providers will face some challenges in getting data onto the dashboard because of the number and age of the different products and administration systems,” said John Lawson, head of financial research with Aviva.
The Association of British Insurers said: “The minister said in his speech that the government would consider legislation regarding participation once the Dashboard has been developed, and we would support that.”
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