Faced with an opportunity to partner with the Pension Protection Fund, Avco were contracted on behalf of Experian to develop a service for securely making insolvency scores accessible.
Experian gather, analyse, combine and process data across a vast number of industry sectors and for a wide range of uses. Their expertise in this led them to calculating insolvency risk scores for the sponsoring employers of defined benefit pension schemes
The Pension Protection Fund (PPF) pay compensation to eligible pension scheme members in the event of the scheme’s sponsoring employer becoming insolvent and leaving the scheme unable to afford a level of benefits at least equal to the compensation the PPF provide. An important source of funding for the PPF is the risk based levy paid by schemes eligible for PPF protection. An assessment of insolvency risk is a critical element of the levy calculation methodology.
To support the delivery of the levy, the PPF wished to provide employers and their advisors with online access to Experian’s insolvency score. This helps the PPF’s audience understand the methodology and data used to calculate the score, as well as the individual score attached to each employer that contributes to a pension scheme. There is a requirement to view the score and input data on a daily basis so that employers and their advisors can monitor response to changes in their financial status, and associated risk of insolvency, as well as update any of the financial information used by Experian to calculate the risk of insolvency. In total there are around 5,600 eligible pension schemes with around 17,000 associated employers.
This project was for Avco to build a new website to provide access to the insolvency risk scores and the associated data for each of these 17,000 employers.
Avco has a standard development approach consisting of a period of analysis, a two week development lifecycle with a demonstration at the end of each cycle. This allows Avco to involve clients in the development process; facilitating rapid feedback from the beginning of the project.
Experian calculates insolvency scores and accompanying data for approximately 17,000 employers on a weekly and monthly basis that needs to be delivered to Avco, imported into a database and presented on the website. Each of the 17,000 employers has between 400 and 800 data items that need to be processed and retained for graphs and viewing of previous months on the website.
There were various complexities to be addressed and overcome by Avco throughout the solution. The transfer of data needs to be secure and so is performed using Avco’s SFTP server to ensure end to end data encryption. The data import routine has to be efficient and timely in order to process data in large quantities without putting significant strain on the database and affecting user experience on the website. The database has to be organised and indexed in a way that allows data to be queried quickly while retaining a maintainable and logical structure. The website itself has to display all of the data in a modern, rich, clear, concise and easily understandable manner. It must also be shown in a way suitable for mobile devices.
The resulting solution includes a well-structured database, a sophisticated import application and a feature-rich website. Avco delivered the project on time, completed all planned tasks and met all projects requirements. The solution was deployed into Avco’s hosted environment in May 2014 and was introduced to all existing users (approximately 15,000) in the first week of June.
In February 2015, Experian/PPF won CICM British Credit Awards 2015’s “Risk Management Achievement of the Year” for the insolvency risk calculations and scoring they had developed. Avco plays an important role in the delivery and access to the scoring, which is solely available via the website they created.
Avco continues to maintain, manage, support, and host the project for Experian, and have also implemented and deployed many new features since its launch. The website averages approximately 2,000 page views from 200 separate users every day.