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Heywood Pension Tech

Following the recent publication of updated staging dates by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Heywood’s Chris Connelly and David Rich delved into the intricacies around the when, the what and the how of getting pensions schemes dashboards ready in time during a recent webinar.

Chris Connelly, Chief Strategy Officer at Heywood said “The DWP has fired the starting pistol again. We’ve had a few goes at this, and with the recent Programme delay, it’s useful to get some certainty out there.”

When do schemes need to get ready for pensions dashboards?

The latest guidance sets out a condensed connection window between when the first schemes are to connect by and the final dates – only 18 months compared to the previous 27 months. This means within the 18-month period there could be up to 60 or 70 million pension entitlements to get ready to be sent to the dashboards central digital architecture, not forgetting an additional 30 million state pensions - no small task.

Preparation is vital, and the best time to start, if you haven’t already, is now.

While pension schemes and providers prepare for connection deadlines, Chris pointed out this is not necessarily when members will be using pensions dashboards. “We don’t yet know when the dashboards availability point (DAP) will be. We will get six months’ notice, though. What we do know is when schemes need to make data available – this is at some point in the 18-month connection window.”


David Rich, Heywood’s Head of Data Services, stressed that the 31st of October 2026 is not, and should not be, a scheme’s target: “It’s the deadline. There will likely be bottlenecks. With thousands of schemes due to connect, if everyone does it at the same time, it will lead to capacity issues.”

Before you connect you need to assess and cleanse data, select matching rules, and choose how you’re going to connect to the central digital architecture; it takes time, so it’s vital that you are preparing now.

Don’t hesitate, or you could get left behind

Despite the DWP announcement Chris noted some schemes and those within the industry are hesitating on dashboards: “There is still a view that dashboards won’t happen and that no one is getting ready.”

However, the numbers speak for themselves.

To date, Heywood has delivered nearly 70 dashboards readiness data assessments representing over 3.2m member records. We also have connection projects covering 2.4m members underway, with a combined 3.8m members signed up to use Heywood’s ISP service.

These customers are already testing how they get data to Heywood as an integrated service provider, and they’ve made excellent progress in their preparations ahead of their connection dates.

What do schemes need to do to get ready?

The webinar broke this down into four core areas: find data, view data, connection and what next.

Find Data

Find or common data is the basic personal information that pensions dashboards will use to match a person with their pension.

When assessing your data, it makes sense to start here. Can you identify the gaps in your member data? Have you evaluated it against third-party datasets to determine if it’s correct?

David said: “Historically, data cleansing is something schemes did once a year or every few years, or maybe not even at all, but with pensions dashboards, you need to keep your data clean and accurate all the time, because once you're connected and dashboards are live, it's always live.”

Chris explains that it’s essential to know where you stand before you can start thinking about matching rules. “When members use the dashboards, they will have to prove who they are. Schemes aren’t doing this. The dashboard front end will verify this.”

Schemes need to ask themselves: can you trust your data and has it been verified? You need to know where you stand with your data and use your findings to determine which bits of information you want to use in your matching rules.

Chris went on to say, “You’re making decisions now, and you need to test these to get them into a live environment. But you need to be sure you can monitor these once you are live because you need to know whether those matching rules you have settled on work for you – how might you evolve them over time?”

It’s a pertinent time to point out that matching rules and what you initially select can be tested and modified once you find out what works best for your scheme.

View Data

View data is equally important but a bit more complicated. This is what you will show the member once they pass through the find data query.

This includes information such as who the administrator is, employer information, estimated retirement income, accrued benefits, and signposts for where to go if further help is required.

Like with find data, schemes need to have confidence in the information they hold. To present members with their values, estimates and retirement income, you need to be able to access your calculations to produce these numbers. David said, “In some instances, these might not be numbers that you have to produce very often, and reviewing them is not something you routinely do. Ask yourself, do you have the capabilities to do it?”

If there are gaps in your view data, you will have to do the calculations to fill them and just like with find data, once you’ve got all the right information, you need to ensure it remains accurate.

Connection to dashboards

How are schemes going to get member’s pension information to the pensions dashboards on demand?

When it comes to connecting, schemes generally have two options: build your own connection or buy someone else’s. Chris notes, though, that “if you haven’t yet made that decision, you’ve probably left it a bit too late to build your own.”

If schemes opt to use a commercial ISP, they must engage with suppliers now. Vital considerations are how do they connect you. How are they going to keep you compliant and ensure you meet your legal obligations?

And you should be looking to start testing now. 

Chris said: “I cannot stress this enough that you test early and regularly just to ensure everything you’re doing is working. You don’t need to wait until your data is perfect to test a connection with ISPs. You could do that now. The earlier, the better.”

What else should schemes be considering when selecting an ISP?

  • There’s a whole suite of reporting standards to comply with; how do you monitor the reporting is working effectively?
  • What is the visibility and transparency of what your service provider is choosing to do for you so you can monitor the data you’re supplying?
  • How can you ensure your data is always secure, and how can you always hit 99.5% availability?
Possible matches

When pensions dashboards are live and real people start using them, schemes need to consider how they resolve possible matches – when some of the data entered by a member doesn’t match, but it’s close.

And when a member gets a possible match, they’ll be presented with the contact details of the pension providers with whom they may have a pension with. This could lead to a phone call as the member seeks to resolve that possible match – and some schemes estimate performing a manual possible match on the phone could take as long as 20 minutes at a time.

Once you’ve built up a body of evidence, you may want to tweak your matching rules once you establish what seems to be working – and what doesn’t.

But new processes, new member requests, and how to tackle these are all considerations pension schemes and providers need to think about when pensions dashboards are live and how administration might change. It may be wise to anticipate a spike in member queries.

“We’re entering a world where pensions are almost part of the open finance architecture; we’re taking baby steps, but that’s the direction in which we’re heading,” said Chris.

The right ISP can not only provide the services you need, but also give you the guidance, support and advice you need.

Time to get going

The DWP has fired the starting pistol and the countdown for pensions dashboards is on! After a near year-long reset, the time for action is now. The next 12 months represent an opportunity for you to get ready.

You need to assess and review both your find and view data. Ensure your member and value data is complete, consistent, and up to date, and create your plan to keep data accurate on an ongoing basis. Remember, once connected to dashboards, you are always connected, so you need to have a plan to ensure your data remains accurate.

Chris concluded: “It might be the finish line for making sure you hit your legal duty of connecting, but what that really means is that that's the starting pistol for the world of open pensions and where your pension always exists online, somewhere alongside everyone else's pensions.”

How Heywood can help you get ready

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