By Jonathon Puttick, ABI Project and Policy Officer
Collaboration is the key to delivering the dashboard
In the early spring of 1943, pressures from the Second World War led to a great rise in demand for new research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Radiographers, engineers and scientists urgently needed workspace so, at short notice, a temporary wooden structure called Building 20 was erected – to be torn down six months after the war. From the exterior it appeared to be a three story shed-like structure, and from the inside it was a labyrinth of offices full of open wiring and ventilation shafts. Fifty years on, it was home to nine Nobel Prize winners, the atomic clock, ground-breaking radar technology and the first internet network.
Many question why Building 20 was a ’magical incubator’, able to house so many of the innovations that are the basis of the modern world. It appears one of its secrets lay in its chaotic layout, which out of necessity put linguistics next to radiographers and video game developers. Collaboration across sectors led to a cross-pollination of ideas and new approaches where previous ones had failed to yield results.
While admittedly on a smaller scale, we have tried to take the same approach to the development of HM Treasury’s Pensions Dashboard Prototype. The project blends tech and innovation from six FinTech development partners with the pensions expertise and consumer base of seventeen market leading firms to develop an end-to-end prototype. Therefore the prototype is not just a commendable technological achievement on the part of the contributors and development partners, but a testament to the spirit of collaboration across the industry to improve outcomes for consumers.
The underlying philosophy of the dashboard is exemplified by its launch location: The Aviva Digital Garage. Here an established firm has converted an old mechanics workshop in East London into a working space to foster links between an established firm and innovative new tech start-ups.
Innovation does not have to be a zero sum game – technological breakthroughs can create new services, new opportunities and more wealth. The ABI believes that the dashboard will help to tackle the issues arising from a proliferation of small pots created by automatic enrolment, assist today’s savers to find lost savings and catalyse the development of new services to help people engage with their pensions.
Now the project has successfully delivered a working prototype, we have to keep up the momentum towards industry-wide implementation in 2019. The prototype has proved beyond doubt that the technology to deliver the dashboard is here. But this alone is not enough, and we need to ensure the regulatory and legislative framework is there to support it.
Many parallels are often drawn with Open Banking, in which retail banks and their challengers are collaborating as part of the wider revolution in consumer data ownership. While at a superficial level the comparison works, the Pensions Dashboard is not yet supported by legislation whereas the Open Banking reforms are driven by legislative and regulatory requirements. As the ABI believes that market coverage will the litmus test used to judge success, we welcome the announcement that HM Treasury and the Department of Work and Pensions will explore all options to ensure a critical mass of pension providers participate in 2019.
Progress over the past nine months has demonstrated that the technology is there to deliver the dashboard - although, this is arguably the easiest part. The industry will now need to work closely with Government to ensure there is a robust regulatory framework in place to support delivery.