Pension pros worried about cyber risk

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Nearly all pension professionals believe UK pensions require some form of change – with the top area chosen being cyber risk. About one in 17 is optimistic about the UK pension system, while nearly a third expressed pessimism, in a poll at a recent conference series.  

Polling almost 500 attendees at its annual conferences across the UK, consulting firm Aon found that 94% of them think UK pensions need more change – and within that, nothing was felt to be more important than cyber risk.

While several of the changes pension professionals want to see relate to policy initiatives already in the pipeline, others have not seen the same level of focus. Aon’s poll found the top four priorities – with respondents able to choose several options – were cyber risks (42%), defined contribution small pot consolidation (36%), dashboards (34%), and DB refunds of surplus (34%). 

The Information Commissioner's Office has recently told organisations that they must do more to combat what it said was a growing threat from attacks. Its 'Learning from the mistakes of others' report revealed more organisations than ever are experiencing cyber security breaches, with over 3,000 reported in 2023. Among others, data from pensions administrator Capita was accessed by cyber criminals last year. 

“Despite significant regulatory change to the UK pensions system in the last few years to both DB and DC pensions, it is sadly telling that over 90 percent of respondents stated that the UK requires yet further changes to its pension system,” said Matthew Arends, who heads up UK retirement policy at Aon.   

Respondents to another Aon survey, the Global Pension Risk Survey 2023-24, said that the volume of regulatory change, including changes on the way, are creating resource challenges, but these incoming changes are not considered sufficient, it seems.   

“Even with this background, our pension conference attendees overwhelmingly responded that further change is needed,” Arends noted.   

Is more change needed, and where?

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