About

Who am I?

Hello.  My name is Richard Smith.

Richard photo

I’m a pensions professional, starting my career in 1987 (my LinkedIn profile has details).

Why I’m a pensions dashboard supporter

Whilst helping the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) with the set up of Automatic Enrolment (AE) and the National Employment Savings Trust (NEST) from 2007-10, I really began to understand how confusing and worrying most of the UK population finds the topic of saving for retirement.

It would be great if people could feel much more confident about their plans for retirement. Confidence would help people stop worrying so much whether they’re saving enough for a comfortable retirement and when (or even whether) they’ll be able to retire.

Confidence comes from knowledge and understanding. In particular, understanding the retirement savings you’ve built up so far in your career to date.  This is just what a pensions dashboard is for.

So I believe the whole arena of pensions in the UK will be much improved by a pensions dashboard, because of the greater understanding, confidence & engagement it will bring.

The Dutch experience supports this view.  The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) found that:

“Qualitative evidence indicates that the [Dutch] pensions dashboard has encouraged consumer engagement with pensions by making them more tangible and visible

Our findings indicate that the quality of information provided to consumers could significantly improve their engagement with the market and subsequent outcomes.”

 

Why I’ve set up dashboardideas.co.uk

Like many others, I’m a supporter of the concept of a pensions dashboard, but not at any price.  The complexity & fragmented nature of the UK pensions system will make it very hard, and potentially very expensive, to develop comprehensive dashboard services.

The Blair Government previously tried to develop an Online Retirement Planner with a similar focus, but the project was scrapped in 2006 after four years’ development.

The ABI-led work to date has brought up lots of options, each with different pros & cons, requiring extensive discussion and debate.  By clearly airing the issues, I hope this site will help contribute to building consensus and help determine the best approaches for delivering UK pensions dashboard services.

 

Why now?

Currently, my own personal view is that dashboard services should be launched from October 2020 onwards (with pilots potentially launched before that).  By late 2020:

  • The initial Automatic Enrolment regime will have been fully rolled out
  • State Pension Age for men and women will have been fully equalised and increased to 66
  • HMRC’s digital tax accounts will be up and running for many individuals.

Launch date is just one of the topics being considered by the DWP feasibility study, due to report in Spring 2018.

 

Why me?

For many years, I’ve felt that if I could see all of my pensions in one place, and come back to this place often (not every day, but certainly several times a year), then I’d feel much more confident about a) what I’ve already got and b) my saving plans for the future.

It seems instinctive to me that by being able to easily see the totality of their accumulated pension wealth, people will feel both more confident and more engaged to take an active role in their saving for their retirement.

But as well from my long-term general interest in this topic, there are three specific reasons why I believe I’m currently well-placed to support the pensions dashboard debate:

1. Experience: Establishing NEST broke new ground.  None of us involved (whether civil servants or external consultants) had ever created, in statute, a national trust-based defined contribution pension scheme, with a public service obligation to accept all employers who wish to use it.  And all under the glare of public & media scrutiny.

I would describe the process we adopted to develop the scheme as “collaborative innovation”.  That is, the pooling of good ideas from a variety of sources, debating and refining them, and then packaging them appropriately for approval by Parliament, Ministers or other relevant authority.

A similar mix of collaboration and innovation across the whole pensions and technology community and Government will be essential to bring pensions dashboard services to fruition.

2. Age: I’m now 50, just past the classic age where “retirement reality” starts to kick in according to NFU Mutual’s 2013 research.  So I’m personally in a position of thinking about what pensions dashboard services should look like and what I need them to do.

Plus, many of my friends and peers are of a similar age.  Now that our children are growing up and starting to leave school, pensions issues are increasingly a part of our conversations, helping me gain a deeper understanding of the broader requirements for pensions dashboards.

3. Circumstances: Despite being only 50, I am already a pensioner.  My lovely wife Heather very sadly died in June 2014.  She worked for Prudential so I’m now a spouse pensioner of the Prudential Staff Pension Scheme.  So I’m already starting to think like a pensioner, with a strong personal understanding of issues around life expectancy, and making your money last until you die.

Many thanks for reading.  Please do get in touch if you’d like to discuss pensions dashboards (see Contact page for details).

Richard Smith
November 2017