Hunger is not a word you’d associate with actuaries.
I wrote a blog earlier in the year called Popcorn Pensions, it discussed a change in mindset in our work, a movement from telling our clients what they have to do to helping them achieve what they want to do.
Inspiring enthusiasm in people for retirement planning is not easy and needs a few core ingredients. It needs an efficient pension plan that gives its participants confidence that saving is worthwhile. It needs available funds either from the employer or the employee and preferably from both. It also needs a genuine enthusiasm for pensions saving right through the process.
It’s that last bit that’s been missing. I’m not talking about beaming photos on brochures , fancy websites or alluring TV adverts (though all these things help). More like I’m talking about the hunger of the pension professionals who advise companies on their retirement strategy.
I’d go so far as to say that part of the function of professional advisers is to recreate a passion for the job in their clients. It is in their interest to do so.
Unless we can educate employers and trustees of the massive opportunity they have to make a difference to their member’s retirement, we as consultants are failing in our duty. The “lock-down” mentality among those who simply regard pensions as “unwanted risk” is and will be self-fulfilling. It will kill pensions.
If we can educate employers and trustees, then we can help them to instill this enthusiasm and endeavour into their workforce. I have absolutely no doubt that staff who go to work with the intention of doing a great job with the certainty of a happy ever after will be more productive and more stable than a staff who have no long-term strategy and who go to work without purpose or conviction.
Our client seems to have been invigorated by dealing with us. Right the way through the organisation, in the HR and Finance functions, the pensions department , among the business heads, the unions and all levels of the workforce, we think we’ve made a difference.
And this is the really interesting thing. The enthusiasm we have found for the job, since our Popcorn Pension moment is infectious within our organisation. The enthusiasts have taken over the asylum and the things we wanted to happen with our client are happening in our company.
Enthusiasm is infectious. It may not sit within the actuarial lexicon but it should be.
What drives the enthusiasm? My answer, from observation, is the desire to teach, to educate, to help others to take control of their lives through sorting our their finances in their later years. This enthusiasm depends on advisers who believe they can make a difference working together with our clients and their members to make it happen.
Education is at the heart of the process but it is based on the principles of Popcorn Pensions – that is a hunger to help people get what they want .