First we take Manhattan…


Canada bores me.

I have only two cultural references for the place, Supertramp – (the band that drove me to punk in the 1970s) and South Park the movie which urges Americans to

“blame Canada, they’re not even a real country anyway”.

I know Canada has produced Neil Young and Leonard Cohen but they had to go to the States to keep their sanity. Unsurprisingly the likes of Brian Adams are still allowed to inflict mental suffering on the few remaining Canadians with any edge to them. Quite simply -it’s dullsville on a transcontinental scale.

I’ve been asked to speak to a bunch of Canadian pension gurus at the Canadian Pension and Benefits Institute (CPBI).

CPBI Forum

Like Cohen and Young, they’ve relocated and  their 2015 Forum’s in New York.  Cohen and Young helped define my future, but I suspect the title of the gig may be a touch ambitious, at least for this sceptical limey.

I’ve been asked to speak on the subject of “Who’s risk is it anyway” an attempt to compare British and Canadian approaches to dumping risk on someone else.

Being fantastically Middle of the Road , the Canadian approach to risk sharing – at least philosophically – is to retain much of the operational risks of providing pensions with their big institutions while asking ordinary people to take more market risks- specifically the risks that pensions won’t pay out in full when the market’s down and may have to be adjusted downwards  if everyone lives too long.

Neil Young quipped on his big hit (Heart of Gold)

“This song put me in the middle of the road. Traveling there soon became a bore, so I headed for the ditch. A rougher ride but I saw more interesting people there.”

I was tempted to entitle my talk  “Rust never Sleeps” –

“better to burn out than to fade away”

but suspect this a little too radical a pensions solution. Apparently , when Young heard the line had been quoted in Kurt Cobain’s suicide note , he made people listen hard to another line in the song ‘

“once you’re gone you can’t come back”

Maybe a few people de-risking both Canadian and UK DB liabilities should be listening.

If you’re reading this and you are going to the CPBI Forum, I’m on at the uncivilised hour of 9.30am on Wednesday morning (Eastern Time). I think they worked out that I was a loose canon , so I’m sharing the stage with Simon Nelson of the Canadian consultancy Eckler.

Working on the Hegelian principle that I’m thesis and Simon’s antithesis, I reckon the idea’s we get to synthesis, which is fine as long as you don’t pronounce Thesis with an F.

I reckon I’ll be checking out of the conference entertainment, a night on Broadway watching “Phantom of the Opera” and heading to the Village with my mate Andy Walker and his fiancee Christie for some fun.

The king is dead but he’s not forgotten,

this is the story of Johnny Rotten.

cpbi hall of fame


Nominations welcome!

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 First we take Manhattan…

  1. Christopher Lean says:

    My neighbour used to subject me to Supertramp in the 70s and I started to wonder how bad things can get. But Tina Charles on Top of the Pops was the final straw for me. Punk was inevitable.

    Punk was about breaking up the Status Quo ( another group I cannot abide ), so the link with risk is a good one.

  2. Gerry Flynn says:


    No doubt you will be having “Breakfast in America” in the next couple of days,and trying to explain to the Canadians how Gideon Osborne managed to get away with the “Crime of the Century” .When you have finished your talk will they wave and say “Goodbye Stranger” and muttering to themselves “Dreamer” whilst you “Take the Long Way Home”.

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