Testing connection to pensions dashboards: ITM and Altus
ITM and Altus, spoke with the Pensions Dashboards Programme (PDP) about their experiences in going through alpha testing.
About ITM and Altus
ITM partnered with Altus to become a pensions dashboard integrated service provider (ISP). Together they have created Pension Fusion. You can find out more about their motivations for becoming an alpha participant in their previous interview and blog.
Understanding the potential challenges
Rob Dobson, Head of Propositions at ITM, and David Poynton, Product Manager at Altus, were clear on the complexities of being involved in alpha testing. Some of the challenges they identified included:
- the work involved to get ready for alpha testing
- the process is inevitably complex
- as the first tester, there were always going to be challenges to overcome
- documentation and regulations were still in draft
“I think probably the main thing is the scale of the project… this is a new piece of regulation that is impacting every single pension policy, pension provider and scheme in the country.”
What helped ITM and Altus to prepare
ITM and Altus spoke about what helped them to prepare for testing. They identified a few factors that helped to test their connection, which included:
- the combined expertise of ITM and Altus to help them understand the requirements for the system they needed to build to manage the connection
- their experience of working with pensions data enabled them to ensure their product will provide data validated to meet the pensions dashboards data standards
- internal testing that ensured their product is working as expected, in line with standards and regulations
“…having the expertise of both ITM and Altus was a massive leverage in getting the understanding into the system and making sure that our solution wasn’t just a sole purpose for connecting or dealing with data management. We’ve been able to define a system that’s covering all bases.”
Working together with PDP
ITM and Altus worked with PDP to address issues they initially faced, ensuring progress remained heading in the right direction. The relationship with PDP was important in raising issues and making changes quickly.
“So there have been some challenges, understandably, but as you say, being the very first alpha participant, we expected that and PDP have worked with us to address those things and now we’re heading in the right direction.”
Advice for data providers preparing to connect
ITM and Altus had a few pieces of advice for other data providers when they come to prepare to connect to dashboards.
- do not underestimate the amount of work involved – a data provider’s system needs to do a lot more than simply “connect”
- it requires a certain level of financial investment
- have a plan to get to the point of connecting to the ecosystem
- schemes need to have a plan of action to meet their obligations, be it buy or build, as time is running out
- there is a lot of work for schemes to do prior to connection around member data, its quality and what they will use for matching criteria
David highlights both the PASA matching conventions guidance and Pension Fusion’s own matching thought leadership as helpful documentation to support the understanding around data matching and the conversations in industry around the importance of data accuracy and data quality.
Reflections and hope for the future of pensions dashboards
ITM and Altus are proud of the fact that they were first to begin alpha testing and that their involvement helped to make changes and drive things forward with the programme. They hope in the future that the pensions industry becomes more digitally automated and people become more engaged with their pensions. This will lead to improved financial wellbeing where people feel secure and in control.
“The end-to-end solution is coming together – with organisations developing the ‘front-end’ of dashboards and providing demos. This has allowed us to visualise the end goal of what we’re trying to achieve with our work on onboarding and integrating information into the dashboards’ ecosystem.”
“I think there are a couple of hopes for the future. One is making sure that the pensions industry becomes more digital and automated, secondly it provides a really good saver experience.”