Waiting for Dunkirk ; The Pensions and Benefits show #pb13.


As trade shows go, #PB13 takes a lot of beating. 1000 delegates, a good no-frills venue and a humming exhibition space with as many as five concurrent sessions; speed dating, informal “board” meetings all under the auspices of the magnificent Jonathan Stapleton.

If anyone was dis-satisfied they certainly didn’t tell me! It was great seeing such a high proportion of people in the hall on the buy side and so many of the stands being used to promote best practice.

But while there is a new seriousness about pensions , the structural weaknesses of the industry were clearly evident. What was on display both in terms of “thought leadership” and technology was a little disappointing. Where was the breakthrough product to take us through auto-enrolment, who had the solution to the advice gap or the 2014 traffic jam?

Maybe we are “too busy for trade-shows” but I’m not so sure.

Too often I found myself on insurer’s stands asking where they saw themselves positioned for 2014 and beyond  and getting back “lost looks”.

Steve Webb renewed his onslaught on the workplace pension providers and frankly some of them were looking punch drunk from the left jab of “pot follows member”, the right hook of the consultancy charge ban and the sucker punch that will be this autumn’s OFT review. If the default charge doesn’t result in at least one TKO, I am reading the mood wrong.

As I looked at the big players who were there- Towers Watson and Aon Hewitt, I saw and heard nothing that suggests that they will be major players in Waves 2 and 3 of auto-enrolment staging, those smaller benefit consultancies exhibiting were not advertising anything I had not seen at the #PB12 or #PB11 for that matter.


It’s the phoney war alright and it was Andy Seed of KPMG who seems to have captured the Zeitgeist of the day in his concluding comments when he went “off message” to warn against false euphoria on opt-outs and against any sense of complacency. We’ve seen the early skirmishes which have been won by large employers throwing money at the problem but our Dunkirk has yet to come.

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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3 Responses to Waiting for Dunkirk ; The Pensions and Benefits show #pb13.

  1. Gerry Flynn says:

    Sorry to disagree with you Henry but I found the show cold and clinical and there was no buzz that I got from from the show held at Olympia last and half the number of exhibitors. And as for the chap from from KPMG, good on him for going “off message”, there should be a few more of us telling Webb and the DWP to get into the real world!

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