Today’s pensions industry is dominated by data, to the extent that it can sometimes be overwhelming.
There’s the data your scheme holds: thousands of member records, which have to be accurate, complete, up-to-date and secure, not to mention Guaranteed Minimum Pension(GMP) - proof and pensions dashboard-ready. And there’s the data you’re constantly fed: investment reports, transaction statistics, a host of SLAs and KPIs.
Trustees and scheme managers are bombarded with more information than they know what to do with – and that’s a problem. It can easily lead to ‘analysis paralysis’, where schemes spend all their time reviewing their data and never have scope to act on it.
So what can you do to plot a course through the jungle? Paul Capel, our Data Solutions and Pensions Consultancy Director, recommends six practical steps to avoid data fatigue:
- Don’t waste time on data that isn’t related to your strategic objectives. Determine what data matters. Demand that your advisors provide data that will help you get your scheme moving in your desired direction – whether that’s in terms of regulatory compliance, digital engagement or member journey planning.
- Don’t forget to engage with the experts. There are people in the industry with extensive untapped knowledge of the minutiae of schemes. Don’t assume that everything you need to know has been carefully documented down the years in a watertight audit trail – speak to the experienced person who might be able to tell you why something is the way it is, without you spending valuable hours running up a blind alley.
- Don’t explore areas that can’t be corrected. Don’t sacrifice data quality, but when you’re doing a remediation exercise, be pragmatic: establish at the outset what data can be found and corrected, focus your efforts there, and don’t waste time and money on problems that can’t be solved.
- Don’t expect technology to do all the work. We’ve never had more powerful tools for gathering, analysing and displaying data – but no computer program can completely replace the human brain when it comes to intuitively spotting correlations and making sense of them.
- Design a simple dashboard to demonstrate progress. There will be times when it’s necessary to take a deep dive into the details, but trustees and managers need clear, high-level, up-to-date information to gauge progress and make decisions without getting bogged down.
- Seek to achieve multiple objectives by solving one data point. That will mean careful planning to build intelligent filtering and correlation of data points into your solution, but think of the rewards when the right piece falls into place and several questions are answered or problems solved. Even something as simple as a tracing service to ensure you hold correct details for members aids scheme communications whilst also helping you get ready for the fast-approaching Pensions Dashboard.
The data we hold might – even should – be exhaustive. But the way we present and use it needn’t be exhausting. If we’re smart and selective, data can be one of our most powerful tools to navigate the way to better scheme management and a better member experience.
We provide services to help pension schemes run all data exercises, such as common data and conditional data analysis, with recommendations and steps to resolve data issues, as well as data projects such as GMP reconciliation, rectification and equalisation, de-risking analysis, and preparation for the Pensions Dashboard.