NAPF Conference Report (from our man not on the spot)

Greg McClymont at election count May 2009

Greg McClymont at election count May 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My attempt to create a one man fringe event at the NAPF was short-lived and I spent the majority of the past 48 hours ensconced in various coffee shops and bars listening to Conference Reports from playpen cronies.

The feedback was excellent, the NAPF put on a great show which brought together voices as disparate as Brian Cox , Steve Webb, Martyn Lewis and Gregg McClymont. Mates of ours, Alan Higham, Jenny Davidson, Stella Eastwood, Paul McGlone and Steve Balmont were on the speaker’s rostrum while the perfectly formed Exhibition seems to have been as well organised as ever. The gala dinner was a great success and the NAPF are to be congratulated- this is the greatest pension show on earth.

I had the good fortune to spend some time with two old friends, Paul Lambert and Julie Barclay of Compass. To my great delight, I discover they are using NEST as the auto-ernolment pensions savings plan for their 55,000 eligible workers. Bravo! Although they are postponing to the new year, they stage in November.

That Nest is up and running is brilliant news both for NEST (don’t worry guys we do love you) and for the tax-payer who may see some of the £300m we’ve lent NEST coming back our way.

For some reason, some parts of NEST seem to think has got a downer on them, it’s not true!

This blog does not agree with every aspect of NEST’s investment strategy (especially the molly-coddling elements at the start of the lifecycle) but in terms of the big decisions, low-cost diversification, target-dated funds and a conventration on solid processes and good communications, NEST is the benchmark for everyone else. If that £300m achieves a levelling up towards NEST’s standards then it is money well spent.

Good news too that Steve Webb is looking for pot follows member to drive out poor pension provision. I think the Minister’s moving in the right direction but if may need the mighty Gregg to deliver the kind of market intervention that the Coalition fights shy of. Relying on insurers to “do the right thing” is a risky strategy.

I’ve said it before , I will say it again.

If your company cannot come up with a workplace savings scheme of the quality of NEST or NOWof Bluesky or B &CE or L &G Mastertrust (not an inclusive list)  then it should rememeber the maxim

If  you can’t beat them, join them.

Which brings me to my final point. NEST has been shackled with certain restrictions that make it less than perfect as the default pension plan. Speaking with Simon Gay of the ABI , I learn that these restriction are ultimately driven by Europe (not the ABI!?!).

But the argument that the restrictions create more harm than the good derived from protecting the existing pension providers is becoming stronger by the day. Step forward the might Gregg- to Brussels with you Sir, armed with the sword of righteous indignation.

What Brussels can do- Brussels can undo!

About henry tapper

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