Pension Scheme Data, 2012 and the End of the World as we know it?

Neil Copeland

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The Pensions Regulator has published clear guidance on record keeping and the steps that it expects trustees to take to ensure that their data is fit for purpose by the 31st December 2012. In a welcome reprieve for trustees, the end of the world is set for 21st December 2012.

Everybody knows that pension scheme data stored electronically, particularly historic data, is poor across the industry, but trustees have been reluctant to address the issue, possibly because they lack the tools to do so. Despite the recent regulatory guidance many still seem disengaged from the problem – but you never solve a problem by ignoring it.

The attitude of many trustees and administrators to this issue has led me to conclude that the only logical explanation for their inaction is that they are hoping that prophecies associated with the Mayan Long Count Calendar (“the Mayan calendar”) will render the issue redundant.

For those of you who are unaware, there are those amongst us (admittedly there is a question as to whether they should remain amongst us rather than be held in a secure facility where they can receive appropriate help) who believe that the Mayan calendar predicts that the Earth will end on 21st December 2012. The Mayans are no fools and accomplished remarkable feats in the written language, mathematics, astronomy, astrology, art, architecture, agriculture, and much more, so it’s likely they’ve got the end of the world right as well, runs the argument. Handily for trustees and administrators the end of the world will come 10 days before the Pension Regulator’s deadline for sorting out their data.

Unfortunately for trustees and administrators there are a number of problems with relying on the astrological predictions of an ancient civilisation that the world is about to end as a solution to their pension data issues.

  • It probably doesn’t really satisfy their fiduciary responsibilities to members
  • In an exclusive interview with the Daily Telegraph (seriously) a Mayan elder has made it clear that no such prophecies exist
  • NASA has a special web page refuting the claims (seriously, again)
  • The Pensions Regulator has made it clear that it will review progress in 2011 on the take-up of its guidance and its effectiveness in addressing problems identified in its earlier consultation. So on the off chance that the world does end in December 2012, it may not save trustees from regulatory scrutiny.

Whatever way you look at it, trustees are going to have to deal with their data issues, and the sooner, the better – but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world.

For our take on how to beat the 2012 deadline click here

For an alternate view of how John Cusack might handle things click here – 2012 The Movie

Neil Copeland

Post by Neil Copeland

Director, pensions consultant and adviser to trustees and employers on all aspects of work based pension schemes.