Giving “pensions” back its good name!

jamie 2jamies consul

What do we mean by Pension Governance?

When we listen to a musical recording what we hear is the perfect balance between instruments achieved by expert mixing.

Pensions Governance does that mixing job for your workplace pension , making sure that what you get when you retire is delivered with the precision you’d expect from this guy.

It’s really important that we stop thinking of pensions governance as a “nice to have” . It is as essential to pensions as the Director of a Film or the Producer of a Record or the Chef who prepares your meal.

We have celebrity chefs, record producers and film directors but can you name one person who springs to mind when I say “pensions governance?”

This is a recent comment on a recent thread posted by a pensions actuary

I have been largely uninspired by the idea of master trusts and multi employer plans and I cannot really explain why. However this made me think. What is the difference between a multi-employer plans run by a group of faceless bureaucrats and being one of many GPP from a large insurer run by a group of faceless bureaucrats.

It seems to me that there is very little difference. The issue is that arrangements are not run in the interests of members. I don’t know what the answer is but if all contract based DC schemes were well run and cost efficient we wouldn’t be having this discussion

The guy’s got a great point. People know nothing about pensions governance because the people who manage our pension funds are faceless. Where is our Jamie Oliver, our George Martin , our Stanley Kubrick.

Granted – most of us would rather eat, listen to or watch a great meal, record or film but isn’t it time that someone who is in charge of pensions actually stood up and said

“here we are, this is what we do and this is why you should listen?”

What I mean by pensions governance is not just the minute attention to detail that makes for the perfect balance between all the tracks but the vision of those leading pensions that makes for greatness. There are pension leaders, Alan Pickering, Malcolm Mclean, Ros Altmann., Joanne Seagers all of whom have some bandwidth beyond the narrow circles of pensions folk. There is a younger generation including Tom McPhail and Margaret de Valois looking to popularise pensions rigorously and with modest good humour. We have two of the best MPs in the House of Commons as our Pension Minister and Shadow Pension Minister.

But much more importantly, we now have a pension system which inexorably involves every employer in the land and requires that at last almost everyone becomes a part of the Great British “save off”!

Margaret de Valois made her 2013 resolution to “get workplace pensions on Eastenders”. She’s no mug!

The business of pensions governance is not just about the management of pensions, it’s the business of making them acceptable to the pension’s public- all of us.

Which is why restoring confidence in pensions is right at the heart of what is doing.


It’s time to give pensions a good name

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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2 Responses to Giving “pensions” back its good name!

  1. Mike Atkin says:

    Governance is generally via a trustee board or via a governance committee. The latter is generally company appointed and is more about ticking boxes than improving pensions. We shall therefore not waste our time discussing these further because unless the sponsoring company gives them some teeth they will actually be toothless. GPP members will be inevitable victims of their inertia.
    Trustees are slightly different in that they have MNDs. These usually represent 50% of the board. Sparsely distruibuted over all of the boards are pockets of MNDs who understand pensions and who are committed to improving things for their membership and of course themselves. Unless the enlightened ones are supported by a stong representative of the company they will make a lot of noise but little progress.
    It is companies that can drive change in pensions but for the most part they reluctantly pay over their contribution and feign interest on the rest. For those that do want to improve things will find themselves fairly hamstrung by a trust deed that insists upon “expert” advice at every step. Sorry Henry I’m not being much help am I.
    Until there is a clamour from below for something better and they have some idea of what they want then little will change.
    Education and education should be the two pronged approach. If its via Eastenders then that’s fine.
    I think we are almost saying the same thing J

  2. I think the BBC have already agreed soft product placement for Pensions Workplace Reform (auto enrollment). Indeed last year we had some documentaries on pensions and how many folks were fooling themselves that that they could keep putting saving off.

    Hargreaves Lansdown recently pointed to the almost amazing fact that one investment fund had delivered £275,000 for an investment of £150 per month (£5 per day) over 25 years (I think it was 25 years anyway). So we don’t really have much of an excuse – give up a frothy coffee from Starbucks and a muffin perhaps, invest it in a decent FTSE 250 tracker at 25 bps (e.g. HSBC) and Bob’s your Uncle…

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