Why I wanted to be Pensions Personality of the Year 2014.

value of something

Well sadly I didn’t win but thanks to all the people who voted for me. It seems a share that when you have a public vote, the decision is taken by a group of judges whose views are unaccountable.

We’ll never know who won the public vote not why the judges voted the way they did- but well done to Margaret Snowden for winning!

In future years, I hope that Incisive Media will publish the results of the public vote and use it as the means of choosing the Pension Personality- that is of course what happens in most similar awards (including Sports Personality).



I’ve been long-listed for the Pension Personality of the Year award by Professional Pensions. This is the fifth year it’s happened and though I’ve made the Final a couple of times, I’ve never won the gong. Nobody I know actively canvasses for the award but I’m going to do so and this blog is all about why I want to win!

Pension Personality – definition of an oxymoron

Put aside the easy gags , pensions like any other financial services sector, need people who can speak up for them and yes there are pension personalities. We have several who speak outside the walled garden of “pensions” like  Tom McPhail, Ros Altmann, Alan Higham, Malcolm McLean, Alan Pickering and of course Gregg McClymont and Steve Webb.

These are all people who have earned their right to speak for pensions by dint of their understanding not just of the issues that affect people, but the buttons that connect or “engage” with a wider public.

There are a number of people who we might consider industry spokespeople who have influence within pensions but do not seem to connect in the same way outside, they include Joanne Segars, Roger Mattingly and Paul Couchman whose responsibilities as leaders of trade groups make them visible but constrain them from imposing their personality.

Finally, there are those noisy people like me who hold no office and have no vox pop, but manage to get heard. The bulk of those on the Professional Pension long list fall into this group.

Pensions Personality – general cause for embarrassment

But the weird thing is that if you tell people you are excited about being nominated – even other nominees – they look at you like you are a sad git. I don’t think I’m a sad git for being nominated – I’m really really chuffed!

The graph at the top shows what happens with this nomination – people desperately want one (but won’t say so), once they’ve got one they play it down like it was some kind of disease and as soon as they lose the nomination by not being finalised or winning, they are full of regret. I promise you I will still be chuffed if I don’t get to the final and win- but I want to win!

 Pensions Personality – how to win!

The process for winning is in three stages, you get yourself nominated (where we are now), you get yourself shortlisted (by marshalling public votes – what I’m up to now) and you win on the night as a result of being loved by a panel of judges.

As with any personality award, the characteristics that are judged are a matter for the judges and are generally not shared; since it is impossible to know what you are being judged on, it is pretty well impossible to lobby the judges.

Quantitative assessments of influence are of course now much easier to obtain – every candidate could be rated by the numbers of twitter followers, or by their Klout score or by an analysis of their google ratings. Many automated lists float around which purport to measure influence- all are only as good as the big data questions input into the search and the quality of the database interrogated.

Pensions Personality -more than a Klout score

If we measured personality by Klout score then it would be won by an algorithm as faceless as the inventor of Bitcoins.

We do not choose personalities this way, instead we look at influence in terms of good and bad. Without doubt the most influential political personality in Britain is Boris Johnson, I say so because the difference between the influence of his office (London Mayor) and that of his personality are so wide. It is perhaps unfair on some office holders to say their influence is only a matter of their office since achieving high office requires personality, but it is fair to say that we judge personality by the extent an individual has gone beyond the profile of his office. On this ground Tom McPhail has gone way beyond what might be expected of a Hargreaves Lansdowne PR person and Steve Webb has exceeded the bounds of Pension Minister- both because of personality.

So you look at what Richard Butcher has done at Pitmans, Steve Delo at Pan or Emma Watkins at LCP and MetLife and you see the power of personality raising the profile of the organisations within the industry to the extent that they are their company’s brands (or certainly the brand of the division they represent).

Pensions personality – more than corporate PR

But I think to be a brand ambassador for pensions, you need to be more than an effective ambassador for your company’s brand and it is to the extent that we are ambitious to promote pensions- not our paymasters- that personality is most effective. Boris speaks for London on a global stage, he is both London today and what London might aspire to be. You would say that Boris was an enthusiast for London and I guess I want to be an enthusiast for pensions

 Pensions Personality – a vision for pensions

Which leads me to my conclusion and an answer to the question “why am I proud to be a pensions personality?”.  My conclusion is that to project forward, to aspire, “pensions” needs to be aspirational. We need to demonstrate we are worth the money we are paid and that we don’t want to do enough to justify our keep- we want to do more.

The title Pension Personality has never sat well on the shoulders of those who wear it. Ronnie Bowie didn’t even bother to turn up to win his award and Ray Martin who won last year emigrated to Switzerland soon after!

It is as if personality is frowned upon (certainly it is in fund managers who decry the “star culture” as a business risk). But by playing personality down, pensions loses the capacity to reach beyond well …pensions!

Pensions Personality – till I die!

Everything I say about DA,DC,DB and unfunded pensions comes from the heart- it comes from what I think and what I’ve experienced from 30 years in the game. I may not always be right, but because I speak from the heart , I am consistent – you know where I’ll stand.

My hope is that I will win Pension Personality of the Year in 2014 and that this will help me launch myself to 1m employers who don’t know about pensions. If I win I will use the title to promote myself to these employers and I will use the Pension PlayPen as a means to make pensions accessible.

Our little company does not even have one full time employee and yet we were nominated for the Best Auto-enrolment Implementation Award at the Pensions Age awards this week. We didn’t win, but Alun Cochrane mentioned us being the first organisation that brought a smile to his lips.

Being led by Britain’s Pension Personality of the Year will allow Pension PlayPen to walk that little taller- talk that little louder and do a little more good.

Winning doesn’t mean I’m worthier or nicer or even more of a personality than others on the list (I wouldn’t claim to be #1 on any of those criteria). But winning will mean that I have an opportunity to do what I know I’m good at, which is represent pensions through the conventional media , social media and onto the phones and computers of the 1m people who we need to connect with if we are to complete the great venture of auto-enrolment.

 How to help me become Pensions Personality of the Year

To vote for me as Pension Personality, simply send an email to Rachel.Dalton@incisivemedia.com by Friday 21 March. To ensure your vote is counted, please type “Personality: [Candidate Name]” in the subject line of your email. You do not need to give any reasons for your choice in this email.

To vote for Henry Tapper, type “Personality: Henry Tapper” in the subject line.

Please do it today!

value of something

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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8 Responses to Why I wanted to be Pensions Personality of the Year 2014.

  1. ginanmiller says:

    A compelling plea – we will be voting for you. This could be a help or hinderance but hope it’s the former….

    Kind regards

    Gina Miller

    Founding Partner SCM Private 2 Eaton Gate London SW1W 9BJ 0207 838 8650 http://www.scmprivate.com http://www.trueandfaircampaign.com http://www.trueandfaircalculator.com

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  2. Ian Morgan says:


  3. Steve Folkard says:

    Done. A pleasure!

  4. Couldn’t think of anyone who deserves it more.

  5. henry tapper says:

    Reblogged this on The Vision of the Pension Plowman and commented:

    Updated with a few words on the result

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