Yesterday saw the Government finally put its foot down and demand we comply with its request to stay at home. Short of putting troops on the street there is not much more that it can do- now it is over to us to show some leadership.
There are two things we can do.
Firstly, we can follow orders and not bend the rules. Whatever the rules are on furloughing, businesses must follow them – not bend them.
Secondly we need to start showing leadership ourselves. I had to be “out and about” yesterday, I had a medical appointment in the West End – made on Sunday (happily my lungs are clear). In travelling accross the Cities of London and Westminster I saw all kinds of behaviours that were breaking the rules of social distancing and when they impacted me – I called them.
This is no longer a joke – we are no longer laughing about fist pumps, or shoulder touching, that’s six feet too close for comfort. Unless it’s a member of your household.
If you can stand the reality, read this article, bravely published in the Daily Mail. When I heard my good news, I asked the doctor if I could relax, she looked at me piteously, one of her colleagues – an 18 year old in rude health had died this week. None of us are remotely out of danger.
I have over 25,000 linked in connections and some of them have the virus – at least two are in hospital with it but statistically 20,000 of my linked in connections will get the virus and hundreds will die of it. The behaviours we show from now on will determine whether those hundreds grow to a thousand. 5% mortality is within the bounds of possibility.
Our responsibilities are to ourselves first, our family next – then our colleagues and our wider social circle. Ultimately the wider society contains everyone from those who work on building sites to those who run the markets.
We cannot cheat
The various kinds of anti-social behaviour we have seen are forms of cheating, and cheating on ourselves, While we should take advantage of the breaks available to us in our business and personal lives, we cannot take advantage of others.
In my work at AgeWage , I have been helping fiduciaries, employers and providers understand their data. If my data requests are inhibiting organisations from carrying out their responsibilities to savers, I will withdraw those requests. If however – as I believe – the data can help, I will make sure that help is given.
Now is a time when good citizenship is required in and out of business and that means scrupulous behaviour to each other. We cannot cheat.
For there will be no-one to check on us
One of the consequences of lock down, which has not been properly considered, is that Regulators will not be able to regulate as they had planned. The Pensions Regulator is already withdrawing some of its services, I hear the FCA are relaxing rules on financial reporting.
Here are the comments of one retired actuary to me having looked at the current rules on actuarial valuations (forgive the language – we talk like that).
had to laugh
– went down the list of things to be investigated for an actuarial valn.
Laughed at them all
Covenant in short medium and longer term. Ha fucking ha.
Mortality experience in past 3 years and recommendations for next 50.
Investment returns since last valuation and …..
Prudence in future discount rates.
Then the recovery plan.
Oops – cannot be afforded.
We have to keep our promises
My take on this – we make promises but they cannot be measured just by words and numbers, ultimately they depend on integrity .
To suppose that we can rely on peacetime measures for managing our pension schemes is as lazy as to suppose we could wonder around Richmond Park in swarms.
Our capacity to manage the pension schemes on which people will still rely , when this crisis is over, depends on our applying the lessons we have individually learned over a lifetime. Those lessons are experienced and not plucked from COBS or tPR guidance.
We – those entrusted to look after other people’s money (or data) have a responsibility that goes far beyond a rules based regulatory system.
We have responsibilities to ourselves and to others which are grave and onerous. They start with the way we conduct ourselves in our daily lives and they are rooted in the moral framework of Britain’s business community – which is fundamentally sound.