What will Isio mean for pensions?

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Over the weekend I saw a number of my pension contacts leaving KPMG and joining Isio. I couldn’t work out what Isio was until the FT ran an article about this new consultancy launching today. If I was in the consultancy loop I no doubt would have heard earlier, but I’m not  (and glad not to be) as I can comment with an “open pen”.

Isio has spun out of KPMG. The transaction allow KPMG to continue to invest in its “core services” of audit, tax, deals advisory and consulting. It means that pension schemes has a new player from whom to buy services.

This looks like good news for pension schemes.

KPMG’s pension proposition had become so constrained by conflicts that it must have been a demoralising place to work at. KPMG couldn’t pitch for work against the independent consultants for fear of falling foul of its internal rules on conflicts with audit clients and there were plenty of good people leaving (such as David Fairs who’s now head of policy at tPR).

Meanwhile, the choice of consultant for projects and ongoing work was diminished by KPMG’s inability to pitch. Now Isio should be pitching for work against the big three (WTW, Mercer and Aon) and against the smaller firms like LCP, Barnett Waddingham, XPS and First Actuarial.

The sooner PWC and EY and Deloitte follow suit, the better.

Who’s owning Isio?

According to the FT – Exponent.

Exponent, the former owner of meat-free food brand Quorn and whisky producer Loch Lomond Distillery, acquired the division from KPMG for in excess of £200m. Isio will advise clients on the management of pension assets worth more than £90bn.

Of course it would have been great if KPMG’s senior team had majority control of the business and that we could announce a new LLP with private equity backing, Since First Actuarial bought out in 2004 we’ve seen little entrepreneurial activity in the pension space. This is the worst for pensions.  I’m glad to hear from Isio that while Exponent has acquired a majority stake in Isio, the 20 Isio partners (former KPMG Pensions Partners) will also take a share of the business.

Who’s joining?

My linked in , shows 31 people at Isio  trading under the joyful banner

“Pensions are complicated – we’re not”

It’s nice to see a new face to pensions and amongst those 31 people are a number I know and like.

It’s not easy building a brand without a web presence- this is what Isio is up against on its first day of trading!

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Good luck to Isio, be brave and be bold, like your strap-line!

About henry tapper

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