Democratising pensions in Manchester

Diverse accross the ages

The pictures above are from the library supplied journalists by the PLSA, they are what the PLSA would like you to think they are about, and yesterday’s sessions really were about youth.

But young is as young did and as we drifted away from the hall I noted that the numbers of young people heading for the PLSA’s CEO dinner or the various watering holes in MI , I realised that these were the people I was drinking with the last time I came to this event ten years ago.

The NAPF/PLSA has always been  and still is crusty and male and rather pale and it was only in the press room that I found most people were young enough to think of pensions as something in the future.

In the best session of the day, hosted by Emma Douglas and John Roe of LGIM, tables were asked what millennials and below were interested in. One table told us that millennials were only interested in profiting themselves and had no interest in environmental and social issues. This may seem extreme but it represented a stream of reactionary thought within the conference which I heard again and again in the wine bars and pubs I drifted through in the evening.

Young is as young does and there is still a divide between the progressive programming of PLSA’s conference and the regressive attitudes of many of the delegates and that divide will not be bridged any time soon.

steph 7

Diverse in location

I listened with care to the speech given by Nigel Wilson (pictured above). He, like his fellow Geordie, Helen Dean,  is in exile in London and he spoke feelingly of how Newcastle , Leeds , Manchester and in Steph McGovern’s case Middlesborough, were powering ahead through Brexit while the capital seemed bogged down remaining.

For as long as I’ve been coming to them, NAPF/PLSA conference have been held out of London. But I have never enjoyed the Edinburgh events which seem to attract the investment fraternity, I love to sit with people from the RPMI from Darlington and get a fresh perspective from parts of Britain London could learn from.

Pensions are about the whole of the UK and not just London and Edinburgh and the PLSA has got this.

Diverse in gender

I was very critical earlier in the week of the way the IFA event I attended was run for men with all the speaking being done by men.

At some point yesterday I asked whether people agreed with the majority of questions being asked anonymously through the conference app. It was gently explained to me that this was to give a voice to the people who had not asked questions in the past.

That is an indicator of how far the PLSA has moved since I have been away. There may still be a preponderance of crusty old men in the hall, but there are enough people like Jane there to make a difference.

Diverse in sexuality

and in case I was in any doubt that we weren’t in the heartland of LGBT, I got these wonderful tweets in the middle of the Steph McGovern session – which made my day!

and again

A live conference or a “live feed”?

Back in the day, the PLSA conference was covered by the nation’s media. Today, the Pensions Minister will be streamed into the conference from Westminster.

To be fair to the pensions minister, he’ll be presenting our Pensions Bill to the House. Good for Guy Opperman for making the Bill happen. Ironically many of us will be checking  Cumbotweets” as part of our day.


Hopefully we’ll be checking from the auditoriums and not in the press room while glancing at the live feed (as I noticed some of the press now prefer to do)

There is nothing like “being there” as Bella Jo points out and it’s sad that people travel to Manchester to watch an event as they could on their desktop, the only way to understand what is going on , is to be there live and I bet Guy Opperman is livid he is stuck in Westminster.

Talking of being live, I will be live on You and Yours this lunchtime talking about the damage lead generators can do to people’s pensions (and to the reputation of pensions).

winifred.jpegI’m keen to point out that the reason I’m in the BBC’s Salford studios is because I want to be live in Manchester discussing the good that pensions can do. I will be talking with a female presenter , Winifred Robinson (pictured) and the research has been through another young female – Beatrice Pickup.

We need to be pushing out this live message that pension saving is good news for everyone in Britain, wherever they come from, whatever their gender, sexual orientation, location or age. The PLSA can still do this and I’m really pleased it is recognising that to do this it needs to reach beyond its conferences to the BellaJo’s and the wider public.

Democratising pensions means making pensions something that everyone is interested in discussing and that’s what I hope we will do today and tomorrow.




About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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