I am struck by the power of sharing.
The Friends of auto-enrolment has no money, no official sponsor (though the CIPP are doing a great job of standing behind us) and nothing more than a name with which to make a difference.
The success of the group has been down to sharing and in particular the work of Andy Agethangelou in encouraging all who work within the group to collaborate.
Sharing is something we are becoming more used to, Organisations that understand and grasp social media do so because they have business leaders who understand sharing. Look at what Phil Loney is doing at Royal London, Alan Higham at Fidelity and Tom McPhail at Hargreaves Lansdowne; three champions of sharing who have brought their organisations with them.
Sharing is something leaders do, because they know they cannot carry the project alone.
For every positive there is a negative and the polar opposite of sharing is the cult of the NDA. I am giving up on them! I was recently asked to sign an NDA with an organisation that wanted to make use of our linked in group Pension Play Pen. It seems I would have to enter into a clandestine pact to discuss how I could monetise my contacts.
How absurd most NDAs are! They have a place where highly sensitive information needs to be protected, but for the most part they are vanity items, serving to big-up small ideas by people who hide behind legal documents to protect their questionable intentions.
The first question I want answered when sent an NDA is “why?”.
But I should use my pea-shooter to better effect. NDA’s are only a symptom of a wider malaise that stands in the way of trust and reduces business effectiveness. I refer to the lack of transparency that is endemic in so many of our dealing with people.
Let me give you an example.
Pension PlayPen has been nominated for another national award. To find out whether we have won it we need to pay to attend an event, no problem with that. But the event’s published price is only 70% of the cost we have to pay when we include VAT and booking fees. All the joy of nomination is dissipated by a concern that if we are being tricked on this, we might be dealing with a scamming organisation.
Let me give you another example.
When an organisation tells you it charges you a set amount and you find you are paying another amount, you worry that the organisation is crooked. This is what often happens pension charges. Until we know what we are really paying, no amount of disclosure about what some supplier to the pension schemes is charging will help.
We need to share information better. Organisations like FofAE thrive in an open society where people want and expect to share. Organisations that operate behind NDAs, use trickery in their pricing and hide behind the semantic difference between a cost and a charge lose out in the longer term.
I will be spending the next day and a half in the company of people and organisations who for the past 25 years have dominated the provision of retail pensions to the British Public. This is the fourth year I have attended and I’ve notice an incremental change in the behaviours of those in the meeting from “keep this to yourself ” to “tweet this”.
There may even be a day when the dreadful Chatham House rule will be abolished and they’ll say “tweet this and you can quote me on it!”.