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Pensions industry is largely dependent on high-quality data

Richard Jones Archive

Everyone in the business world today should care about data quality. If they have accurate information on their customers, they can use it to improve marketing, sales, customer service and more.

People don't care about high-quality data only in the present, however. It also affects their future - after all, with accurate data on their side, they can better plan for retirement.

According to Pension Funds Insider, data quality is a critical component of the pensions industry. Millions of people are performing the groundwork to plan financially for their retirements, and they need accurate information to help them judge their financial futures.

Mark Johnson, a business analyst at Spence and Partners, believes that data is crucial to the ongoing evolution of the pensions industry. As the workforce grows and more people need guidance with financial planning, higher standards for data quality become essential.

"Without good quality data, the industry cannot seek to improve accuracy and efficiency in any area of work carried out," Johnson told the Pension Funds Insider.

Unfortunately, there are numerous stages in the pension administration progress at which things can go wrong. Here are three difficulties in particular that financial planners face.

Computerizing records
Putting people's pension data into computerized systems is only a recent innovation. For many people who have been planning their retirements for years, their data began on record cards and printed member files. It's a hassle for pension planners today to go back and enter that information into computers, but it must be done. Amid that process, there's always the risk for data quality errors. Pension planners should proceed with caution.

Transferring data
Often, situations arise where pension data is being transferred from one source to another, and the potential exists for information to get lost in translation. Pensions can be controlled by multiple third-party administrators, and if these disparate parties all have different ways of managing financial information, they may have sloppy technical processes governing the transmission of people's information.

Ongoing governance
Financial planners have a continuous need to keep a close eye on people's pension information. Data quality isn't just a one-time concern, to be emphasized only when information is first input into a system or transferred. Financiers have an ongoing responsibility to govern data effectively, looking out for people's information and detecting any potential mistakes. If tomorrow's seniors are to retire comfortably, they need today's data scientists to play their role.