“I felt I’d helped”

My firm, First Actuarial, is in the middle of an important project for a large pension scheme that is changing the basis by which their staff build up their pension rights.

Our job is to talk with the members of the pension scheme, explain how the changes affect them and help them work out how they can plan ahead. This is a big job, there are 7000 people whose retirements will be touched by these changes and each day as many as half our staff are directly or indirectly involved. My involvement is indirect, I’m like the wing commander in the Battle of Britain who sees his pilots out in the morning and counts them back in the evening!

Fortunately we don’t encounter Messerschmitts  but for many of our young actuaries , this is the first time that they have been involved in working one to one with people they don’t know.

I have been fascinated to hear what they say as they come back. Still pumped up with the adrenalin of the challenge of a day of intense meetings, their excitement can’t be hidden.

As I look back, I’m trying to work out what is working and what isn’t. I know we’ve had a few hiccups but the feedback I’m getting is really positive. One phrase I’ve heard four of five times is “I felt I’d helped”.

These are the best words I can hear as they are always accompanied by a genuine smile and that little uplift of tone that comes when someone is really proud of him or herself.

I’m not dismissing the day to day work that goes on in our offices. The meticulous work that goes into valuing , administrating and managing the investments that will pay future pensions is what our firm’s reputation is built on.

However, our big idea for the future is to translate this quality of work into an education program that allows the members of some of the great pension schemes to do their own valuations and thus to find the value of the retirement benefits coming their way.

It’s a privilege for us to get the opportunity to work with the companies that have sponsored these huge pension schemes over the past fifty or more years. I know this enthusiasm that runs through us is getting through not just to the sponsors but to the members and this creates a virtuous circle with the feedback continuing to stoke our fires.

What I am most keen to do, is to make sure that the pride that drove the simple words “I felt I’d helped”, is remembered and used by the youngsters when times get tough again.

Nobody can do a job to the best of their ability unless they are happy about what they do. Right now I know that our company is at the very top of its game, our staff buzzing with an energy I’ve rarely seen within an organisation.

Our task, as the managers of the company, is to understand what drives this. It’s not just the commercials, nor the satisfaction of a strategy working, above all it is the pride in doing a good job and the feedback we get from our clients and I get from our staff.

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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