The view from the other side of the pond.

andy and henry

It’s been glorious in New York. Here’s Andy Walker (Pension PlayPen’s genius designer) and me, enjoying a craft beer above the high line (note the Empire State building behind us!)

I wouldn’t like anyone to think that drinking beer was all I did yesterday, but it couldn’t have got much better than an evening on a rooftop downtown (certainly beating an incarceration on Broadway watching Phantom of the Opera).

But “what news”, I hear you cry. What is going on over the other side of the pond to keep Taps from the diurnal grind?

The answer is that this whole conference has been about the new technologies (and waving goodbye to DB).

Daniel Kraft spoke of the the Future of Health and Medicine- well it wasn’t so much a talk, more a merry dance through around 250 images on a Prezi reminding us that an image is worth a thousand words and in Daniel’s case gets them. A lot of images, a lot of words and one question – which received a dismissive grunt from Walker

who’s going to Uberise pensions

Well I don’t know -do I? – Well maybe I have pretensions…

The Uberification of pensions seems well under way, I heard great talks about using gamification to help people learn how their pensions work, what they needed to save, even how to invest.

Gamification is how Sun Life Financial are going about getting engagement and their stats for take up, both of the program and of the desired outcomes are translatable, I’ll be getting on the blower to their gamifiers in California to have some more of the same.

Sally Bradley-Golding of “Financial Engines” spoke to the same theme (but in an American rather than Canadian context. The cheese has clearly been moved, Uberification has begun,


The emphasis throughout was in helping people understand outcomes. This was a step in the right direction. When I’d last engaged with American educationalists, the main thing seemed to be to turn normal healthy Americans into Chief Investment Officers. People love this kind of thing in a class-room, but trying to beat the markets is a mugs game.

I was really pleased to hear a session demanding action on decumulation. Too right – I say! Well if people are getting het up about the lack of options to help people save their retirement pots over here – perhaps we’ll see some spirited debate in the UK! The spirit of collectivism was upon us!

If we are ever to get better at DC, we have got to remember that DC is about providing people with good later life outcomes. Whether these be through a pension , the accumulation of wealth or the alleviation of debt – is a matter for the individual. It is not for us to tell people how to spend their money, it is for us to provide choices.

Canadians are great people. They are polite, kind and generous. They cannot be blamed individually for Supertramp and Brian Adams , nor for driving Leonard Cohen and Neil Young away.  They present a decency and care which I think we may have lost (at least for a little while) in the UK.

But Canada, in pensions terms, is not a nation, it is a series of provinces -Ontario, Newfoundland, British Columbia, all doing their own thing in their own way.

I can write of a Zeigeist within the conference, most especially the feeling that pensions are being Uberified, that we are moving towards a more outcomes based view of DC and that risk sharing is definitely on the agenda for those who can’t or don’t want to manage all the risk.

But I cannot really write about Canada. Terence and Philip were right, it’s not even a real country anyway


About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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1 Response to The view from the other side of the pond.

  1. Jordan Fremont says:

    Henry, thank you for joining us in NYC, and sharing experiences from your side of the pond. It was a sincere pleasure to have you with us, and I will look forward to seeing how Britain’s grand experiment with pension freedom and auto-enrolment unfolds. I hope we cross paths again.

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