Transparency as disinfectant

transparency9Wherever possible – organisations should aspire to be transparent in their dealings, sharing information with all stakeholders.

Bank wins by being straight with customers

Making information difficult to access causes problems. My friends at Quietroom tell the story of how, early in the company’s history, it was called in to stem outflows from the Halifax Bank in the wake of the crisis engulfing Bradford & Bingley, Northern Rock and others. Quietroom’s advice was for the Bank to stop making it difficult to access their money and to make the information on how to transfer money away easy to find and use. The Bank now credit Quietroom with helping it retain up to £500m of assets.

These lessons could be well learned by master trusts and other occupational DC schemes who rank low on Pension Bee’s Robin Hood Index. It is best to be helpful!

I’d love to properly report this morning’s debate at the Pensions Network, but it’s under the Chatham House rule. More tomorrow, if I allow myself to be reported!

FCA fails to disclose its disclosure committee

It wasn’t very helpful for me sitting in the lobby of the FCA and watching the members of the Disclosure Committee make their way past me. I am not bound to secrecy as to who they are but they are. After a lengthy wait since the announcement of Chris Sier as Chair, it is time the composition of the committee and its terms of reference was made public.

It is time that we had a proper debate about what the outcomes of the Committee’s work should be. Running a committee that is trying to improve disclosure behind closed doors is asking for trouble!

USS concedes its members can see the consultation on its 2017 valuation

A small victory for public disclosure was won yesterday when the USS conceded when the widely disseminated consultation on the 2017 actuarial valuation could be read by members. Its content has of course been on this blog in the early part of the week, though out of respect for both the Trustees and the members , I took down the information which I had thought to have been in the public domain.

I will re-post when time allows. Trying to manage an announcement on a consultation via a press release is a risky strategy. The PR has gone wrong and Jo Cumbo has every right to be cross that she was only able to publish partial information while a proportion of her readership were party to a bigger picture.


No harm has been done by publishing this information; as one member (who runs an actuarial course wryly commented.


Clearly this was an attempt to spin that went wrong. The website 38 degrees smartly ran a campaign to get 1000 people to demand the paper be made available to members.


I expect by the time you press the link, the target will have been attained.

I’m informed that essentially the same thing happened in 2014/5 at the last valuation when many institutions released the paper (though not with USS permission). It only takes one employer to treat the consultation as a public document for the edifice to collapse. Let’s hope that by 2020, the USS Trustees will have moved on.

I have only one of a number of blogs with an interest in the issues surrounding our large DB schemes. Those issues were given a still sharper edge by yesterday’s announcement with regards the BA pension scheme.

Transparency as disinfectant

Clearly the way that information is absorbed is changing. Sitting in a room in Docklands hearing about Wake Up Packs being sent to savers approaching retirement with the FCA, I wondered whether many in pensions actually know that digital information exists!

Social media doesn’t just ask for transparency, it creates transparency. Whether it be the FCA, the USS or back in the day – the Halifax Bank – transparency tends to be a disinfectant that cleans up rather than muddies wounds.



About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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2 Responses to Transparency as disinfectant

  1. Sam Marsh says:

    On the USS document, the University of Sheffield has, as of yesterday, decided to put this online, so it’s now out in the open!

    University of Sheffield: USS 2017 Valuation (See bottom link)


  2. henry tapper says:

    Thanks for your work with 38 degrees on this Sam- much appreciated!

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