Pensions Data Standard1

A (UK) Pensions Data Format Standard – let’s make it happen!

 

(Posted by Patrick Lee on 8 August 2017 at a different location, but migrated here on 05 Feb 2018).

I have long thought it would be useful for there to be a standard format for exchange of data files for DB (Defined Benefit, i.e. final salary or career average revalued) pension plans, at least in the UK initially.

This would make it easier for pension plans to share information (with actuarial consultants, but also other advisers e.g. buyout companies, investment analysts), not just in mergers and acquisitions, but also in risk transfers (longevity, or pensions buyouts) and would improve the comparability of analysis across companies by investors etc. It should also reduce costs for trustees and plan sponsors, and may increase the quality of the data held.

Pensions Data Standard1

I think this both with my InQA hat on (I declare an interest in that our pensionsconcerto.com product would be well placed to use such a standard), but also from the point of view of being an improvement for the pensions industry generally. Investment banks have standard formats for exchange of information about derivatives contracts, but as far as I know there is nothing comparable in the UK pensions industry.

I have an initial template in mind as a suggested standard, which could be refined/improved as necessary following discussion with relevant parties. I have several organisations in mind and am about to open a dialogue with them to see if we can make this idea a reality, for the good of the industry as a whole.

Comments and dialogue most welcome.

Update 11 Aug 2017:

I’m exploring whether XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language, see https://www.xbrl.org/) would be an appropriate (or perhaps even the best current) format for a standard in this area. Moving company reporting to XBRL has saved Australian businesses and government $1.1 billion annually and it is estimated that the US could save $11 billion if they adopted a common XBRL standard for their various different types of company reporting. Savings in the defined benefit area would be smaller, but would still be sizeable, and of course there would be transparency and comparability gains too.

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