PDP launches pensions dashboards design standards consultation

The Pensions Dashboards Programme (PDP) has published its consultation on the design standards for pensions dashboards, outlining its proposals for how information should be displayed.

The consultation, which runs until 16 February, proposes the design standards that qualifying pensions dashboards services (QPDS) will have to abide by when presenting users’ pension information on dashboards.

Pension information that is to be displayed on dashboards is set out in the secondary legislation and includes: Administrative data, signpost data, value data, and contextual data provided by pension providers and schemes, as well as the state pension data.

While the design standards will apply to QPDS, the PDP noted that pension providers and schemes will be affected as they have to legal obligation to put together the pensions information and send it to a QPDS.

The standards are designed to complement, but are separate from, the Financial Conduct Authority’s regulatory framework.

The PDP outlined its proposed approach to the design standards, noting that QPDS must ensure that their displays of pension information are engaging, accessible and inclusive, as well as clear and comprehensible.

Across all dashboards, users should have a broadly consistent dashboard experience and have an agreed-upon minimum level of consumer protection, with the PDP to use guidance to set out good practice.

Dashboards’ design standards must undertake user-testing, but they have the scope to tailor their offering, for example position on the page, branding, colouring, and font.

They can present information in a way that enhances the user experience without doing calculations and may graphically illustrate income estimated over a period, subject to consumer protections.

The PDP’s approach will be principles-based, but it may be directive for consumer protection purposes, and if there is tension between the needs of the user and those of the dashboard, it will favour the user.

The design standards are a minimum expectation and will not replicate existing legal or regulatory requirements.

For the user’s journey, they will arrive at the dashboard and have an explanation of the dashboard service, with PDP’s consultation outlining the requirements of QPDS for this stage.

They will then be handed over to the central digital architecture (CDA), for a pension find or authentication, before seeing their search results.

Their search results will display a summary of their results; their detailed pensions information; updated pensions information; links to the CDA, service explanations and PDP’s support service; and graphical representations.

The PDP’s design standards consultation only applies to the arrival and search results stages, with its proposals for requirements of the search results stage also outlined in the consultation.

This includes a display of the information in a list or tabular form, an entry of every view request the QPDS has issued and pensions value data in an annual format.

The QPDS must group the found pensions together, including all possible matches, pensions in the same scheme, and pensions with the same employer.

When the user navigates from the summary to the detailed pensions information, the QPDS must allow the user to see all their pensions information returned by the pension provider, scheme or state pension in relation to just that pension in a single space, with limited exceptions.

Every QPDS webpage or display page must also contain a prominent link to the CDA, a link back to the explanation of the dashboard service, and a link to the PDP’s support service.

Commenting in the foreword, PDP principal, Chris Curry, said: “This consultation on our proposals for the QPDS design standards represents another major step forward for dashboards.

“The appropriate presentation of a user’s pensions information on dashboards is vital for the success of dashboards. Design standards are key to consumer protection, and consumer protection is at the heart of making dashboards a success.”

PLSA director policy & advocacy, Nigel Peaple, added: “The publication today of draft rules and standards which qualifying pensions dashboard providers must adhere to are a welcome next step towards making dashboards a reality. Industry and consumer groups will need to assess the proposals in detail before feeding back on the consultations.

“However, it is essential that dashboards are safe for savers so, now, more than ever, everyone should focus on doing dashboards well rather than quickly. Even after the new rules and standards are settled in the summer of 2023, extensive user testing will be required to ensure they work in practice.

“We anticipate at least 12 to 18 months of user testing will be needed from the summer of next year before dashboards can be launched to the public."

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