Hargreaves Lansdown is an investment services company that’s been around since 1981. It’s…sizeable. Its share of the DIY investing market, including every robo-adviser and online investment platform, is 42.5% - so large it needs its own category. So, their opinion has a bit of weight. And yesterday at Boring Money’s Fin-k Tank conference Tom McPhail, head of retirement policy at Hargreaves Lansdown, laid down a challenge to the government’s flagship ‘pensions dashboard’ policy. His take is that building a massive database to combine people’s pensions will not work in the Fintech age – it’ll be obsolete before it’s even finished. Strong words from the company that manages 51.8% of the UK’s DIY pensions.
The Pensions Dashboard is an initiative from the Department for Work & Pensions designed to draw together an person’s pension pots on one centralised database. McPhail says the dashboard will require legislation to ensure 100% coverage. If this coverage doesn’t exist, the data will lack integrity.
Here’s Tom on what the dashboard is and where it falls down.
Speaking at the conference, he said: “There’s a real policy problem because auto-enrolment keeps giving people more and more pension pots. That needs fixing. When you’ve got a pension you’re happy with, you should be allowed to keep it. Why do we need to help people combine their pension pots when we could allow them to keep their existing pension when they move jobs? My challenge to the DWP is that having committed to build a dashboard, how do you work with the rest of the industry?” This includes established platforms such as Hargreaves Lansdown and also the new breeds of Fintech group.
Instead, McPhail called for ‘open pensions’, which would rest in the hands of individuals and could be moved from company to company. This, he argues, would be far more useful for retirees than being forced to take another pension every time they move jobs.
“Retirement is not just about pensions, but also about ISAs, property and other assets. Property is biggest single store of wealth outside of pensions. More importantly, people want control of their wealth in their own hands.”
Over to you, Department of Work and Pensions.