Marriage and Pensions: A Mis-Match Made in Data

The significance of marriage extends to Defined Benefit (DB) pension schemes. This significance stems from the fact that these schemes usually provide survivor pensions to the spouse or eligible dependents of members once they pass away. Evaluating the value of these pensions entails two key factors: (a) determining the percentage of members with qualified dependents, and (b) assessing the age gap between members and their dependents, as those with younger dependents are likely to have longer-lasting pension entitlement. 

One of the fundamental aspects of managing a Defined Benefit (DB) pension scheme is assessing the percentage of scheme members who have qualified dependents. Qualified dependents typically include spouses, registered domestic partners, and sometimes children. The presence of qualified dependents significantly influences the scheme’s financial calculations and responsibilities.

The impact of this reaches every corner of the scheme’s financial landscape, spanning from its funding assessments to transfer considerations and financial disclosures. 

Importance of Knowing the Percentage of Members with Dependents:

  • Cost Projections: Understanding how many members have qualified dependents allows pension fund administrators to project the potential financial obligations accurately. Survivor pensions are a critical component of DB pension schemes, and they often entail ongoing payments to the surviving spouse or dependents. Knowing the percentage of members with dependents is vital for budgeting and managing the fund’s financial health. 
  • Beneficiary Identification: Determining which members have dependents ensures that the right individuals are identified as beneficiaries. Survivor pensions are typically designed to provide financial support to the deceased member’s immediate family, and accurate beneficiary identification is crucial to meet this objective. 
  • Benefit Distribution: The percentage of members with dependents can also influence how death benefits are distributed. Some pension schemes may differentiate in terms of benefit distribution, with a larger share allocated to members with qualified dependents. This is often done to ensure that those with families receive adequate support. 
  • Plan Design and Amendments: Pension fund trustees may use this information to make informed decisions about the plan’s design and potential amendments. For example, if a significant percentage of members have dependents, trustees may consider adjustments to the plan’s contribution rates or investment strategy to ensure the fund’s sustainability. 

Assessing the Age Gap Between Members and Their Dependents 

In addition to understanding the percentage of members with qualified dependents, assessing the age gap between members and their dependents is another crucial factor in calculating survivor pensions within DB pension schemes. 

  • Accurate fund valuation: with the increase in DB scheme de-risking understanding the future commitments owed to the members spouse is a critical when valuing a scheme. Missing Spouse information can have a material impact on the pricing calculated by both the scheme and insure involved in a buy-in/buyout.
  • Impact on Pension Duration: The age gap between members and their dependents directly affects the expected duration of pension payments. Typically, beneficiaries receive survivor pensions until they remarry or pass away. A significant age difference between members and their dependents can result in a longer duration of payments, impacting the fund’s long-term liabilities. 
  • Risk Assessment: Pension funds must assess the risk associated with survivor pensions. A larger age gap implies a potentially more extended period of financial support, which can increase the fund’s exposure to risk. Accurate risk assessment is essential for making prudent investment decisions and ensuring the fund’s financial stability. 
  • Financial Planning: Knowing the age gap allows pension fund administrators to plan for future financial obligations. By understanding the potential duration of survivor pensions, the fund can allocate resources and investments strategically to ensure it can meet its commitments to beneficiaries. 
  • Actuarial Calculations: Actuaries play a critical role in determining the fund’s liabilities and subsequently the valuation of the scheme. Assessing the age gap is essential for actuaries to perform accurate calculations and provide valuable insights into the fund’s financial health.

In the world of Defined Benefit (DB) pension schemes, the significance of marriage and family extends beyond personal relationships—it deeply influences the financial responsibilities and obligations of pension fund administrators. This is particularly important to both schemes and insurers when going through bulk annuity buy-ins/buyouts as future liabilities owed to the spouse have a material impact on the valuation of the scheme.

By evaluating both the percentage of members with qualified dependents and the age gap between members and their dependents, pension funds can make informed decisions, ensure the financial security of beneficiaries, achieve accurate pricing, improve communication and member experience, and manage the long-term sustainability of the fund effectively. These considerations underscore the importance of meticulous data collection and analysis in the realm of pension fund management, ultimately contributing to the peace of mind of members and their loved ones. 

MM. Spouse & MM. Beneficiary are bulk data enrichment solutions which will predict the marital status of a member and append spouse information to the member record, where the spouse or beneficiary information may be missing.

The Pension Dashboard and MM: Improving Efficiency and Member Experience

Welcome back to the second part of our three-part blog series, where we dive deeper into the Pension Dashboards Program Data Standards. In this part we’ll be exploring some of the mandatory data elements required for verifying an individual’s identity and matching to multiple pension pots. We’ll highlight some of the common problems which may lead to an increase in partial matches and poor member experience.

Having up-to-date data is a crucial aspect of a successful Pension Dashboards implementation. When the dashboards are live, having accurate and current data will significantly reduce the number of partial matches and in turn improve member experience and reduce operational overheads on administrators.

What is a partial match? A partial match is when a data provider (ie a pension provider or scheme) reviews the data they receive from the pensions dashboards ecosystem and thinks they may have a matching pension on their system without being sure. An example of this could be that the forename, surname and date of birth match but the address provided is different, potentially because the saver hadn’t updated their address details with the provider.

When partial matches occur, administrators will be required to invest time and resources to manually verify and resolve discrepancies. A partial match also increases the risk of matching a member to the wrong pot, which is not acting in the members best interest and will cause compliance challenges for the administrator.

By gaining a deeper understanding of the data elements and their associated definitions, administrators can proactively address data accuracy challenges, ensuring that partial matches are reduced and members receive accurate information when they access their Pension dashboards.

In total there are 87 data elements which are defined under the Data Standards and categorised as mandatory, conditional or optional.

In the following table we have focused on key personal information outlined in the standards and common problems impacting data quality.

Data ElementCommon ProblemsOptionality
Given NameAbbreviations, shortform names and mistakes.Mandatory
SurnameSpelling mistakes at the point of entry.  
Name changes due to marriage/divorce or change of circumstances.
DOBD.O.Bs captured in inconsistent formats.  
Missing or incomplete information.

Address Type (Current or Previous)
Over 10% of the population move address every year.  
Deferred members less likely to maintain accurate records.  
An address when an account was opened is likely to have changed
The same individual may have multiple pots associated to different addresses.  

Address Line 1
On average 20% of address data is incorrect or incomplete  
Addresses are stored in multiple differing formats
Provide all previous addresses over last 30 years.

Data degrades consistently over time due to changes in circumstances like getting married, moving home and changing address. Information at the point of capture will also be entered in an inconsistent format, with miss information or mistakes and incorrect due to human error. Both data degradation and incorrect information will result in increased partial matches when matching members to multiple pots as part of the Pension Dashboards rollout.

In an initial qualitative research study undertaken by PWP, this issue of degradation was highlighted, especially in the case of deferred members:

Some participants find that where there is a direct relationship with the individual, data quality is much higher. Others have challenges with individuals even being aware that they have a pension entitlement in the first place –which is particularly challenging when individual’s circumstances change and the data becomes out of date (e.g. address, surname or name changes, other contact details etc.)

MM. Are working with schemes, administrators and ISP’s to reduce partial matches and improve member experience by:

– Cleaning and standardising member addresses using royal mail PAF
– Confirming if a member is living as stated or gone-away from the given address
– Tracing members to new addresses and providing historical addresses associated with the member
– Identifying error and improving accuracy of member name or D.O.B

Speak to MM. now for a report on the quality, currency and completeness of member data.

Prepare and have confidence in your migration to the Pension Dashboards.

Dashboard Ready: Data Standards in a 3-Part Guide.

Welcome to our three-part look on the Pension Dashboard and its data standards. In part 1 of this mini, introductory series we’ll have a quick look over the pension dashboard, it’s aims and the challenges faced by schemes in complying with the standards.

The Pension Dashboard Program, a groundbreaking initiative, holds immense significance for individuals planning their financial future. Designed to revolutionize retirement planning, this program provides a consolidated platform where individuals can view all their pension savings in one place, regardless of the providers. This centralized access empowers people with a comprehensive overview of their retirement funds, fostering better decision-making and informed choices. Gone are the days of juggling multiple pension schemes, as this digital tool ensures easy tracking and management of retirement funds. With enhanced transparency and accessibility, the Pension Dashboard Program empowers individuals to take charge of their financial well-being, ultimately paving the way for a more secure and comfortable retirement.

The Pension Dashboard is a transformative initiative that aims to simplify retirement planning for individuals. It functions as a digital platform where users can view and manage their pension information from various providers all in one place. By consolidating data on contributions, savings, and projected benefits, this tool offers a comprehensive overview of one’s pension funds. The primary goal of the Pension Dashboard is to empower users with better insights into their retirement savings, facilitating informed decision-making. With easy access to real-time data, individuals can optimize their retirement strategies and work towards securing a financially stable future.

At the core of this initiative lies a set of guidelines that standardize how pension providers share data. By establishing a common format for information exchange, the Data Standards ensure seamless integration and easy accessibility of pension data for users. These standards encompass crucial details like contributions, pension scheme specifics, investment performance, and projected retirement benefits. With data accuracy and consistency as top priorities, pension providers can adhere to these guidelines to enhance overall data quality and security. As a result, the Pension Dashboard can present users with a clear and easy-to-understand overview of their pension information, fostering trust and confidence in the program’s reliability. Embracing these Data Standards empowers individuals to make well-informed decisions regarding their retirement planning, paving the way towards a more financially secure future.

The compliance of pension schemes with the established Data Standards holds immense significance in the success of the Pension Dashboard program. Ensuring that pension providers adhere to these guidelines guarantees a seamless and efficient data-sharing process, facilitating a comprehensive view of an individual’s retirement savings. By following standardized formats for data exchange, pension schemes contribute to data accuracy, consistency, and security. This compliance not only streamlines the user experience but also enhances the reliability and trustworthiness of the Pension Dashboard. Furthermore, consistent adherence to the Data Standards enables users to make well-informed decisions about their pension plans, optimizing their retirement strategies and securing a stable financial future. Given the program relies on matching multiple pension pots for an individual clean, current and standardised data is critical. To avoidt is imperative for pension schemes to comply with the Data Standards, ultimately empowering individuals to take charge of their retirement and plan with confidence.

In the next article we will be looking at the role data standards have within a pension scheme. This will cover how data standards influence pension scheme administration, the implications for schemes should they not meet the standards and the benefit of having defined, robust data quality practices.

Pension Dashboard Program: Meeting the Data Standards with MM.

In the ever-evolving landscape of retirement planning, the Pension Dashboard Program has emerged as a game-changer. It’s vision is to provide individuals with a consolidated view of their pension savings, empowering them to make informed decisions about their financial future. At the core of this visionary initiative lies data standards – a set of guidelines governing the format, quality, and security of pension data. Compliance with these data standards is paramount for pension providers participating in the program.

This article explores data standards and its importance and how MM. a data quality company, can be the ideal partner to ensure successful compliance.

The Significance of Data Standards in the Pension Dashboard Program

Data standards are the foundation of the Pension Dashboard Program, enabling seamless integration and accessibility of pension data from various providers. This ensures consistency, accuracy, and security, creating a unified digital ecosystem that benefits both pension schemes and their members.

Accuracy and Trust: Accurate data is essential to build trust with scheme members. By adhering to data standards, pension providers can ensure that the information displayed in the dashboard is reliable and up-to-date, fostering member confidence in their pension planning.

Transparent and Unified View: Data standards facilitate the creation of a transparent and unified view of pension savings. This comprehensive overview empowers individuals to gain a holistic understanding of their retirement finances, making it easier for them to make well-informed decisions. Understanding: Data standards promote cohesion among diverse pension schemes, simplifying the process of consolidating data from various providers. This streamlines data sharing, ultimately benefits both pension providers and their members.

Meeting Data Standards is Essential for Pension Providers

Pension providers that meet data standards set by the Pension Dashboard Program are not only fulfilling their regulatory obligation but gaining a significant strategic advantage. Compliance with these guidelines unlocks various benefits that enhance pension scheme operations and member experiences.

Seamless Integration: By adhering to data standards, pension providers can ensure that their data seamlessly integrates with the Pension Dashboard Program. This ensures their members have easy access to all relevant pension information, resulting in greater financial awareness and peace of mind.

Improved Decision-Making: Accurate and reliable data allows pension schemes to make well-informed decisions based on real-time insights. This data-driven decision-making reduces operational cost and ultimately benefits the fund as well as its members. Enhanced Member Engagement: A unified and transparent view of pension savings enhances member engagement. By providing members with access to a consolidated dashboard builds loyalty and satisfaction, which are critical in today’s competitive pension landscape.

Reduction in the number of Small Pots: The Pension Dashboard Program will play a major role in reducing the number of ‘small pots’ being administered by providers. With the dashboard, individuals can easily track their various pension accounts, identify any smaller, fragmented pots, and recognize the potential drawbacks of having several independent accounts.

MM.’s Data Solutions: Ensuring Compliance for Pension Providers

MM is at the forefront of supporting pension providers in meeting data standards and maximizing the potential of the Pension Dashboard Program. With a suite of advanced data quality solutions, MM. offers invaluable assistance in three key areas:

Existence Checks: MM. helps pension schemes verify the existence of members, ensuring that only valid and active accounts are integrated into the dashboard.
Our DDRI licenced mortality screening solutions enhances data accuracy and trust among scheme members by preventing payments to deceased members.

Tracing: MM.’s Living as Stated solutions assist pension providers with member tracing in locating members whose data might be missing or outdated. By discovering and updating this information, pension schemes improve their operational efficiency. Currency of current addresses and understanding a member’s address history is a critical attribute when matching members across schemes.

Discovery of Spouse and Beneficiaries: MM.’s marital status predictor in tracing spouses as well as beneficiaries ensures that pension schemes include all relevant parties in its member records. This enables the fund to determine its future financial liabilities which will continue to maintain the wellbeing of the fund.

Data standards are the bedrock of the Pension Dashboard Program, driving transparency, accuracy, cohesion and are essential for matching members across different schemes. For pension providers, compliance with this standard is a strategic advantage that enhances operational efficiency and member experience.

MM. are supporting clients with Data Readiness reports for pension dashboard which highlights structure, completeness, uniqueness and quality of member and beneficiary attributes.

Partner with MM. to develop and enhance your scheme’s data. Contact us today and enjoy the full benefits of the Pension Dashboard Program.

“Transaction Ready” with MM.

As the landscape of Defined Benefit pension schemes continues to evolve, trustees and administrators are facing new challenges and opportunities. The rise of pension buy-ins and buyouts has reshaped the way schemes manage their risks and explore potential transactions. In this changing environment, accurate data has emerged as a critical factor for success.

Data cleansing can often be overlooked by schemes, as trustee’s focus on funding and investment strategies. However, insurers, when securing benefits for their scheme, have stringent requirements for data quality.
In a recent article featured on Pension Funds Online, it was found that ‘schemes with comprehensive audited data can potentially save up to 5% on their insurance premiums’—a substantial difference that can determine the success or failure of a transaction.

Going to market with incomplete and uncleansed data will most likely result in insurers not providing a quote. Similarly, as per the warnings from Axa Investment Managers in an article from Pensions Expert entitled ‘The buyout backlog may leave many pension schemes needing a plan B’ not having complete and cleansed data could see you pushed to the back of an ever-increasing queue as more schemes seek buy-out.

Given these circumstances, Trustees should not underestimate the importance of managing and improving scheme data, immediately prioritising the cleansing of data that can directly impact the cost of insurer premiums. For example, verified marital status is critical and relevant information that must be accurate and complete. Trustees need to develop a plan for a comprehensive data audit and gap analysis to identify the data that needs to be prioritized, cleansed, and even digitized. All schemes should be ready and prepared on a continuous basis so that they are ready to enjoy any opportunity to go to market immediately in search of a quote.

To be “transaction ready,” trustees must conduct a thorough review of the scheme data. This is not simply a matter of basic standardisation but includes tracing members to current addresses, appending spouse information, tracing beneficiaries, and mortality screening. It is essential for Trustees and Administrators to ensure accuracy and complete a signed-off data cleanse to record the necessary scheme data electronically.

In conclusion, when planning for pension buy-ins and buyouts, trustees must place equal importance on both scheme data and being “transaction ready.” Delaying action until staging dates or neglecting the significance of data quality may lead to missed opportunities and a lengthy wait for that opportunity to return potentially setting back your scheme’s end-game goal years.

At MM., we understand the unique challenges faced by pension schemes, and our specialist data cleansing service, MM. Spouse, is designed to help schemes discover undeclared spouses.
Along with other product offerings MM. can aid your scheme to ensure data readiness for a successful transaction.

Contact us today to see how we are assisting schemes like yours become Transaction Ready.

Fiduciary Duties for Trustees: Managing Member Data with MM.

As trustees of a pension scheme, you are required to act in the best interests of scheme beneficiaries.

These include active, pensioner and deferred members. Furthermore, the widows and widowers of scheme members as well as their financial dependants.

The Pension Regulator’s Trustee Guidance provides a detailed overview of the responsibilities involved for the proper running of the scheme.
Many of the duties arise from trust law and are known as your ‘fiduciary responsibilities’.

In this article, we will explore how pension data specialists, such as MM. assist trustees in discovering undeclared spouses, tracing potential beneficiaries, confirming member addresses, and conducting mortality screening exercises, in accordance with the Pension Regulator’s Trustee Guidance.

Discovering Undeclared Spouses for Accurate De-Risking Assessments:

During de-risking exercises, accurately assessing a scheme’s liabilities is critical.
Undeclared spouses and financial dependants can have a significant impact on these assessments, as their entitlement to benefits needs to be considered.
MM. Spouse helps trace and append spouse information by utilizing advanced techniques and comprehensive data sources. By including undeclared spouses in the assessment process, trustees can obtain a more accurate picture of the scheme’s liabilities and ensure compliance with the Pension Regulator’s Trustee Guidance.

Tracing Potential Beneficiaries for Fair Distribution of Death Benefits:

In the unfortunate event of a member’s death, it is essential to identify and locate all potential beneficiaries entitled to receive death benefits. Trustees have a duty to ensure that the distribution process is fair and inclusive. MM. play a crucial role in this process by utilising our data assets and product suite to trace beneficiaries. By conducting comprehensive searches and analysing relevant data, MM. identify eligible recipients such as spouses, dependents, children and other entitled individuals. Through a partnership with MM., trustees can uphold fairness and adhere to the Pension Regulator’s Trustee Guidance in the distribution of death benefits.

Confirming Member Addresses for Proper Record Keeping:

Accurate and up-to-date member records are vital for trustees to fulfil their duties effectively. However, members’ addresses and contact details change over time, making record keeping challenging. MM. Residence provides your scheme services to trace members and confirm their addresses. By utilizing various databases and financial records, these specialists locate members and ensure their contact information is accurate and up to date. Through partnership with pension data specialists, trustees can meet the record keeping requirements outlined in the Pension Regulator’s Trustee Guidance, improving communication with members and facilitating efficient scheme administration.

Conducting Mortality Screening Exercises to Prevent Fraud and Reduce Overpayments:

Preventing fraudulent claims and overpayments to deceased members is crucial to protect the scheme’s assets. Trustees are responsible for maintaining the integrity of the scheme and adhering to the Pension Regulator’s Trustee Guidance.
MM. Existence identifies deceased members within the scheme’s membership. By analysing data and cross-referencing it with the GRO’s DDRI file to which MM has a direct licence with the UK government. This reduces the possibility of fraud or errors in benefit payments to deceased members. Regular mortality screening exercises assist trustees in preventing fraud, eliminating overpayments, and ensuring compliance.

In line with the Pension Regulator’s Trustee Guidance, trustees have a range of duties and responsibilities to fulfil for the benefit of scheme beneficiaries. Engaging the expertise of MM. can significantly support trustees in meeting these obligations. By discovering undeclared spouses, tracing potential beneficiaries, confirming member addresses, and conducting mortality screening exercises, trustees can enhance the accuracy of de-risking assessments, ensure fair distribution of death benefits, maintain proper record keeping, and prevent fraud and overpayments.

By partnering with MM., trustees demonstrate their commitment to fulfilling their duties and safeguarding the interests of scheme beneficiaries as prescribed by the Pension Regulator’s Trustee Guidance.