UK’s Pensions Dashboard ‘can’t come too soon’ for expats

British expats across the world will soon be able to track lost pensions online under a project launched by the UK Treasury.

The so-called Pensions Dashboard is expected to be operational in March next year and will allow savers to see all their pension pots in one place.

Eleven of the largest pension providers including AVIVA, Zurich, Royal London and Standard Life are working with the UK Treasury build the prototype of the Pension Dashboard, which the Association of British Insurers (ABI) will manage. Countries such as Austria, Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden already have similar platforms in place.

UK Economic Secretary Simon Kirby spoke earlier today from insurance giant AVIVA’s ‘Digital Garage’ offices in London to formally launch the project and its agreed deadline for the Pensions Dashboard to be launched by March 2017.

“The pensions dashboard is a hugely important step forward,” said Kirby. “Financial decisions are complicated at the best of times. But what we can do to help is to make sure that people have the right information, in the right format, at the right time.

“Technology has unlocked so many more possibilities for doing that. Just look at how revolutionary things like mobile banking and comparison sites have already been. It’s time for pensions to catch up,” he said.

’11 employers average in a lifetime’

Many British expats, particularly those that have been outside of the UK for some time have lost track of what they put away in pension schemes before they left the country. In the UK, on average, a person will have 11 employers through their life, which means they could end up with several different pension schemes by the time they retire.

Currently there is no way for people to see the value of all of their pensions in one place, with the Department for Work and Pensions estimating that up to £400m remains unclaimed.

‘Much-needed instrument’

Helen Morris, a financial consultant with Mondial Dubai, a financial planning and wealth management consultancy  told Dubai local news service The National  that for British expatriates this is a “much-needed instrument” and because there was no database for pension provision many people had simply lost their pension provision through ignorance and lack of financial stewardship.

 “It can take months to track down some pensions, sometimes requiring me to follow a person’s CV to track where and when they may have paid into pension schemes,” she said. “The unclaimed £400m is not a surprise as it can be a difficult task tracking down old employers. March [2017] can’t come too soon.”

‘Innovative new technology’

Kirby added he hoped to see this innovative new technology offer pension investors the chance to  review pension balances as part online banking and change how people save into a pension at the click of a button. Even personalised pension forecasts that could be run on a mobile app were mooted.

“That’s why we need a pensions dashboard to unleash this kind of potential,” added Kirby. The dashboard needs to be an infrastructure of open standards – like a common language and system for finding, collating, and sharing pension information. And it should be open to a range of companies who can meet basic standards of security and data protection – including banks and fintechs, not just pension providers.

“They should be able to access its information to deliver the products or advice their customers ask for. But we need to get the free provision of the basic information right, and make sure it’s consistent across different types of pensions. The [UK] State Pension will be a part of that,” he added.

11 member groups

The ABI is looking to add to the 11 member groups already signed up to the Pensions Dashboard and has asked any in interested parties to get in touch.

Aviva, Aon, B&CE, HSBC, LV, Nest, Now:Pensions, Royal London, Standard Life, Willis Towers Watson, and Zurich have agreed to work together to build a first working prototype of the dashboard by March 2017.

Click here to view Simon Kirby’s speech from earlier today in full.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gary Robinson
Deputy Editor, International Investment and Head of Video at Open Door Media Publishing. A fully qualified journalist and filmmaker with more than 20 years' financial services experience, both as journalist and originally as an IFA.

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