Data clean-up needed for pensions dashboard to succeed

17 May 2017

Professional Pensions reports that in the first study of its kind that looks at the quality of data in such detail, ITM examined information from over 440 pension providers and schemes with more than 20 million members. The firm, which is one of six technology partners for the Treasury's Pensions Dashboard Prototype project, investigated whether the quality of existing pensions data could be used as a basis for matching data to an individual in the final working dashboards.

The findings demonstrate the challenge the industry faces in getting the data up to a standard, which can be used for the multiple dashboards that are expected to be developed through the coming years.

Pension products set up before 2000, which account for over three fifths of the total number of member pots featured in the survey, were found to have the highest average levels of inaccurate or missing customer data.

ITM chairman Duncan Howarth said:

"It's no surprise in some ways that pension products before the millennium have the poorest quality data, given that many of these survey respondents will have inherited a portion of their data from previous providers where data was maintained on different systems and even in some cases, hand-written documents.

These high levels of inaccurate data reveal that the industry is a long way from achieving the high data standards needed for fully functioning pensions dashboards. Connecting the sheer volume of data out there is a crucial."

Accuracy and availability of national insurance (NI) numbers, date of birth, postcodes and initials/surname were all flagged up by ITM as essential for live pensions dashboards to function effectively.

Postcode data was identified as a particular issue for occupational schemes, with 60% inaccurate or missing among defined benefit (DB) schemes from before 2000 with a value of between £100,000-£200,000.

Over 30% of postcode data was also flawed in all other DB and defined contribution occupational schemes surveyed, regardless of the pension pot value.

Howarth added: "We've been calling for all pension providers participating in the live pensions dashboards to establish an industry data standard and our research findings support the need for this level of continuity. Indeed, it's our belief that pension providers must achieve a minimum data quality standard before they can sign-up to the live dashboards. If the data standard is too low, the quality of the output in a ‘live' environment will be highly unreliable."