Not for the first time I have been encouraged in my work by L&G’s CEO Nigel Wilson. There have been times when this has been face to face, this morning it was on Radio 5’s Wake up to Money.
Nigel Wilson says what I want to say, so much better than I can. I take my hat off to the man.
By which I mean the business of running this country, which is largely the business of generating the money to pay for housing, medical care and the alleviation of poverty. Our Business as Usual is carried on by Wilson and others, regardless of the posturing of politicians.
Wilson was scathing of the management of Brexit, referring to the breaking of one deadline after another. He talked of Brexit fatigue both in and out of Europe, of scaremongering and of the inevitable fudging of future red lines such as October 31st.
Anyone who is running a business, needs to get on with building things , raising money and selling services and products. In Wilson’s case it was a massive housing project on the outskirts of Oxford designed to keep Oxford at the forefront of innovation for “20,30 – 50 years”.
Investing in Britain – not its debt
Here is a man who is not sitting on the money his company has generated but is investing it into the real economy, rather than in Government debt. As he pointed out, who but a fool would lend money to Government for 10 years to see 95p in £1 of the original investment returned?
The answer is of course , a large proportion of UK’s pension funds, aided and abetted by a Pension Regulator which sees guaranteed loss making schemes, such as investing in UK gilts – as “risk free”.
Only in a world infected by the worst excesses of financial economics would any enterprise fall for such ridiculous financial strategies.
L&G are paying a lot of pensions, paying pensions for their staff, paying annuities for people who choose annuities and paying the pensions promised by companies which L&G has bought out.
But L&G is not backing this annuity book with gilts. Instead it is building houses, paying people a wage for life from lifetime mortgages and funding the infrastructure while the Government wrings its hands with consultation after consultation.
Getting on with it
Yesterday I had lunch with the future CEO of the Pension Dashboard. We talked of delivery timetables. I told Chris that the private sector was not going to wait to build a replica of what the Government eventually built. It would do what Nigel Wilson does, which is pick up an idea and execute it, regardless of the hand-wringing of civil-servants worried about the potential for ill from the sky falling on our heads.
KEY LINE ON DASHBOARD:
Counsell says that non-commercial Pension Dashboards “must replicate” the public dashboard and “present the same information”.
— Josephine Cumbo (@JosephineCumbo) 26 June 2019
Government should listen to Wilson
“we solve these crisis’ by breaking them down into manageable problems, and putting the money behind these problems to get them resolved and move forward”.
The debt we owe to Wilson and others
One day Nigel Wilson will retire and someone else will step into his shoes. Right now – he – and a few other captains of industry – orchestrated by great business women like Carolyn Fairbairn, will lead this country to and through the Brexit in whatever shape it finally takes.
For now – we must thank the big spirit of these people for getting on with it and keeping things going.
They may not grab the headlines but they are the people who make the difference.
You can hear what Wilson had to say on BBC Radio 5 – Wake up to Money which can be accessed here. (From 19minutes 20 seconds).