It felt good to hear the confirmation of the Government’s backing for dashboards announced by Amber Rudd yesterday. I’ve long been an advocate for advancing our industry and the customer experience of it by using technology.
In a nutshell, when they become reality, dashboards are going to empower people to make better decisions around their pension schemes and later life plans.
Clearly, there’s a lot of work to be done from all parties, but the clear support from Government in terms of providing direction, data and support are a great start. Between today and a dashboard-informed future, there’s work to be done on data sharing, data standards and interoperability, consumer protection and more.
The industry is worth 121% of the UK’s GDP, and yet some systems and methods feel archaic enough that it’s ripe for the kind of disruption that we have seen in many other industries over recent years – music, taxi cabs, publishing, and the creation of social networks to name but a few. In each of those cases, we’ve seen incumbents, start ups and new entrants go toe to toe and not always emerge as strongly as they entered the period of change.
Major players in the pensions industry have to have a solution to this development. They need to decide whether to lead (creating their own dashboards), work with others (joint ventures bring their own risks), wait and acquire (which could prove less costly given you would only buy a successful dashboard business) or refuse to take part entirely.
On this latter point, my gut instinct is that consumers want better advice and want to make better decisions for their later life financial planning. Whilst the older generations have had to manage their affairs in the traditional way, younger generations (Gens Y and Z) are born with technology in their hands and so see this as normal. It’s the middle ground (Gen X) where we are likely to see the greatest need for engagement to convert individuals. But an immediate focus on those who are in the upper or lower age bands appears to already be paying off for players like AgeWage – whose fundraising on Seedrs was massively oversubscribed within a day of launch.
On the business side – I think that medium-sized businesses and larger are going to be a lot more demanding of their providers in future. Greater transparency will feel normal in a few years’ time as individuals will become used to logging in to corporate intranets to check on all their workplace benefits in one place. As it already is for holiday, childcare, and healthcare, so it may well be for pensions.
For everyone in our industry, it’s like a forewarning that Uber is launching and giving us notice and prompting us to ask ourselves: what’s our strategy?