It took me till yesterday’s Great Pension Transfer Debate to properly understand the strength of our personal financial advisory profession. Nearly 250 IFAs gave up a day to learn and share experience advising clients about their defined benefit rights. The feedback I got as chair was that this was not a wasted day; the feedback I give as chair is that this was an enlightenment for me (and I suspect many of my colleagues on the corporate side of the fence).
The success of the conference suggests that the organically created days like this one, are more valued than events dominated by a house view of a sponsor. There was no IFA trade body, no corporate marketing team and no product placement in solid eight hours of debate.
That said, this needed Royal London (who paid for the sound and vision), Aberdeen who helped out on premises , lang cat who organised the support before and on the day and First Actuarial who did the teas and biscuits!
But the spontaneous cheers at the end of the day were for one man, Al Rush @raf_ifa whose idea was this and who had the enthusiasm, friendship and spirit to bring us all to the table. Al’s told me he wants no reward for the day, all that I can give him is the thanks he deserves
No quiet event!
I chaired the day which was a wonderful privilege! The job was a doddle as not one of the presentations was weak and many quite outstanding. My favourite was Gregg McClymont’s – delivered from a soapbox in the break-out area to delegates queuing or eating their lunch. I sense that Gregg felt he struggled, he certainly had a lot of external noise to get over, but he delivered as is he was at the despatch box at the Commons!
If Gregg had to contend with extraneous noise, others had to deal with an audience that took little for granted. Well done John Ralfe for not giving an inch in his barmy views! John’s refusal to concede an equity premium is a marvel to behold, his “equity magic beans” a joy!
Things were no quieter on the web. The event’s hashtag #pensiondebate spent the whole day trending on twitter and much of the afternoon at #2. It dislodged everything but #heatwaveuk !
Heatwave – phew what a scorcher!
I admire the stoicism of the audience- the room was naturally ventilated but had no air-conditioning. The energy on stage was matched by a barrage of questions that greeted each new speaker. Each session was a debate and the panel session at the end , was a marvel! Eugene, Al Cunningham and Gill Cardy led but there seemed hardly a person in the room who had not made a personal contribution in one of the best sessions of the day.
Particular thanks go to Alan Smith and Rory Percival who created the foundations for the day with two measured and thoughtful sessions on the actuarial basis for CETV valuations and the current developments at the FCA.
This is not to downplay the showcase contributions by Abraham and Gregg Davies on sustainability and behaviouralism. But they would not have had the freedom to be brilliant without the platform developed earlier.
Michelle Cracknell delivered a beautifully poised session on external perceptions of advisors , using audio clips and posted comments from “customers” outside the bubble. As an ex-IFA and current actuary, Michelle is the real deal and probably carries more affection and respect than any other pension civil servant. Talking of which it was good to see the DWP spending the day with us – most appreciated!
I sat next to Steve Webb in the afternoon , before and after his session. He spoke for 20 minutes and took questions for 40 – how we miss him in parliament.
His big idea is to offer partial transfers. He has the support of First Actuarial – overtly given on the day by Alan Smith.
It is up to organisations such as First Actuarial to convey to Trustees the value to members of a flexible approach where part of a defined benefit pension can be taken as pension, and part released to be drawn-down more flexibly.
This isn’t quite Webb’s wonder, the idea has been knocking around for a couple of years, but this is the first time I have heard it explained in the context of financial planning and it gets my support to. It needs a Steve Webb to take this forward. Let’s hope that the new Ministerial team at the DWP get to hear of it.
To happen , we need tPR’s support and that needs a general consent that partial CETVs can be accommodated into scheme rules and easily administrated. Nothing suggests we need new legislation, just a new approach!
The post RDR IFA
There may be less IFAs, but those who have survived the RDR are prospering. The car-park wasn’t full of swank, you couldn’t imagine the majority of the audience swilling whisky in the club-house. This was a deadly serious day when everyone got stuck in.
I was hugely impressed with what I saw and look forward to revivals of the energy and spirit that brought so many good people together.
I had started my day grieving at the insanity of religious hate crimes but finished it travelling home with Fiona Tait, now of Intelligent Pensions. She embodies the new spirit of diversity, responsibility and capability that underpinned this conference. We wish Intelligent Pensions well as it reorganises its offering.