Speech

Pensions Dashboard will fundamentally change how people access their pensions - Simon Kirby

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury's speech at the Pensions Dashboard TechSprint.

Simon Kirby

Today’s event is part of a wider week celebrating the success story of UK FinTech.

As Economic Secretary to the Treasury and City Minister, I cannot overstate how proud I am of the skills and expertise of our leading FinTech firms, and the huge assets they are for the UK’s economy and international competitiveness.

The numbers speak for themselves – over 60,000 employed in the sector and £6.6 billion of revenue in 2015.

But I’m here not to talk about investment or job creation, but to talk about what this experience, expertise and excellence can do to improve people’s lives.

Find out more about FinTech Week 2017.

Context for dashboards

2017 is already an extraordinary year for the impact technology is having on ordinary people.

Last week, a fleet of driverless shuttles took to the roads of east London, using technology developed by a British technology firm.

And in this year’s Spring Budget, we announced a number of investments in research and development – from artificial intelligence to the next-generation of electric vehicles.

There is also a revolution taking place in the way that people manage their finances.

More and more of the financial services industry is utilising technology to make processes swifter and cheaper, and to deliver new benefits to their customers.

It’s now possible to manage your savings on your mobile as you pick up your children at school, or check your bank balance as you queue at the checkout.

Much of this is due to the way we can now access our own data much more easily, where this government is doing exciting work to pave the way – for example on open banking.

And here UK FinTechs are pushing the boundaries of innovation – including many of the companies in the room today.

There is no reason for pensions not to be part of this revolution in personal finances.

Very soon we could be in a world where you top up your pension as you buy a coffee, or check all your pensions in one easy place alongside your ISAs and current accounts.

Prototype project

The prototype we are unveiling today brings us a step closer to this goal.

I was treated to an early demonstration last month, and was deeply impressed with the progress made since I launched the project here in September.

With a few clicks I could access an example dashboard which showed what pension pots our test user had, how much money was in them, and an estimate of his income at retirement.

This proves the behind-the-scenes technology works, and that industry can work together to agree common data standards to make dashboards possible.

The range of schemes and companies who have collaborated to meet these standards also demonstrates that there is no excuse for others not to do the same.

And I’m excited to see now what we can do with this data to benefit the people who will ultimately use it.

Innovation and multiple dashboards

I want to emphasise that I am not talking about building ‘the dashboard’.

I am talking about dashboards with an ‘s’.

Because to realise the huge benefits of this technology, we cannot prescribe a single way for people to access their own data.

Firms need to be able to innovate to answer a whole range of users’ needs.

There is no monopoly of wisdom.

These ‘dashboards’ may be simple websites, plugins to your mobile banking app, or components of complex ‘robo-advice’ software.

And as technology continues to advance apace, I am sure there are uses and implications of dashboards which we haven’t even imagined.

Which is why we are running events like this TechSprint to stimulate the ideas and connections which will make them possible.

TechSprint

Today is all about ordinary people and what dashboards means for them.

I am delighted by the number of people who have come together here to explore how the prototype can unlock tangible benefits for users.

We have lots of work left to do, but we must make sure that these users are at the front of our minds and drive the choices that we make.

Retirement is the biggest financial decision many people will make, and their pension their biggest financial asset.

Yet far too few have a proper overview of how much they have saved, how much they will have when they retire – or even what pensions they have.

And too few people are accessing the advice which could help them save more effectively.

So we are here today to see how we can design dashboards and uses for this data which gives people more understanding about their pensions, and improve their financial capability.

Next Steps

Now we have a finished prototype, I also want to talk a little bit about the future.

This excellent progress has only been possible because of the voluntary participation of dozens of pension and technology companies and schemes, many of whom are in this room.

I want this to continue. There will be huge benefits for companies’ customers who will have access to better data and services, and for the companies themselves which are ready to innovate and get ahead of the curve.

And today we are publishing the initial data standards and lessons learnt from the prototype project, so more people can come forward with their take on the technology needed to make dashboards a working reality.

There is a clear role for government too.

We will encourage and support the companies who are willing to innovate and push this technology forward.

Secondly, I want to call on industry to keep working with us in developing the data standards and the regulation required to make dashboards work and to keep users safe; and for more schemes and firms to get involved in designing how this will work.

I am also clear that dashboards will only be viable and useful if a critical number of pension schemes step up to meet the data standards.

And people have a right to easily see their own data when making vital financial decisions.

So I am discussing with the Minister for Pensions to see how this might be made compulsory if schemes do not do so by choice.

Conclusion

Before I open the floor to questions, I want to reiterate my thanks to the 16 pension companies and six technology firms who have given their time and resource to get us this far.

Your work will fundamentally change how people access their pensions.

As I have said before, you will reap the rewards of early innovation, while those who are slow off the mark will fall behind.

It’s now time for others to step up to the plate and join you.

And first among them are the participants in today’s TechSprint.

I wish everyone the best of luck – may the best team win.

Published 12 April 2017