The Pensions Dashboards Program (PDP) is set to begin the alpha testing phase of pension dashboards in December 2021, with the government also due to consult on secondary legislation “this winter”.
The fourth PDP Progress Update highlighted the transition to the alpha testing phase as a “milestone for PDP” and underscored the importance of collaboration with industry.
The program previously announced that seven major vendors have signed up to participate in this testing phase, which will last for six months, with the process of recruiting potential dashboard vendors at this point also underway.
The alpha testing phase will see PDP working with Capgemini, Origo and its identity service provider to continue building the digital architecture needed for dashboards, while testing and refining the onboarding process through experience. alpha participants.
While PDP ultimately aims to provide an identity service within the framework of the government’s trust and digital attributes, it will not be available for two years, with PDP therefore launching a procurement exercise for an interim service on next month.
The program said it expects to learn a “huge amount” from the alpha testing phase about the technology needed to deliver the dashboards, as well as how to support the data and table providers. on-board during the onboarding process.
Lessons learned from this will also inform plans and timelines for the rest of the program, with a subsequent beta testing stage to follow, working with a larger population of providers.
On top of that, PDP’s update included comments received during the recent directing call for papers, revealing that while there is broad agreement with the proposed sequencing, several respondents indicated that the timeline may be “too ambitious”.
He also found that most respondents indicated that their turnaround time would start from the point of sufficient certainty, when comprehensive regulations are in place and full technical specifications.
The PDP confirmed it was working with government and regulators to incorporate comments into staging policy making, ahead of a consultation with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) this winter on secondary legislation.
The consultation is expected to focus on data requirements, phased integration, compliance, regime and consumer protection, with the hope that the regulations will be submitted to Parliament for debate in 2022, according to the date. launch planned for 2023.
He also confirmed that the government will make the provision of a qualifying pension scorecard a regulated activity, so those wishing to provide a pension scorecard would need to get clearance from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
A test environment will be made available to organizations that wish to explore the service, however, to develop and refine their proposal in a secure environment, before seeking FCA authorization.
Lessons from this situation will feed into a corresponding consultation on FCA rules, which is expected “next year”.
Commenting in the foreword to the Progress Update, PDP Director Chris Curry said: “Pension scorecards are ambitious and PDP is a complex program that requires industry support, government and regulators.
“This is why it is so great to see a positive collaboration already established, with the seven major pension organizations that have signed up to participate in our initial testing phase. Their input will help streamline the onboarding process, improve the process of logging into dashboards for other vendors and programs.
“We fully recognize that not all vendors are ready to go online yet and that taking the necessary steps to prepare dashboards will be a challenge for many. But time flies and with the program now firmly in its delivery phase, the mandatory phased integration for data providers will soon be upon us.
“We will support you in this preparation in any way we can. We remain committed to operating in an open and transparent manner, and will provide regular updates on what we learn during our testing process. ”
Aegon’s pension manager Kate Smith also said the report “clearly shows” that the PDP has its hands full but “is making steady progress” to make the scorecard a reality in 2023.
She commented: “It is well advanced, but the next six months will be critical as the program intensifies with testing, consumer research and collaboration with the pension industry and other stakeholders.
“The ambition is for the largest pension plans and providers to start connecting to the dashboard ecosystem in spring 2023, all eyes will be on the consultations to see if that continues to be the ambition.
“The FCA is expected to consult on all regulatory requirements in 2022. Potential dashboard vendors will be interested to see what they need to do before taking the plunge. ”
Despite the progress made, industry experts have already expressed skepticism that dashboards will be “useful and comprehensive” by 2025, with many pension professionals “extremely skeptical” of the PDP’s proposed timeline.