This blog does not indulge in maudlin retrospection and I am not about to publish a list of the my top 20 blogs of the year. I write for me and not my readership and though I’m very grateful for you reading, I do not have any commercial interest in you doing so. The small amount I pay to keep this blog “ad free” is in return for the support I get from word press (who host this site) and so that I can feel prouder about what has become a record of what I’ve been thinking since I started blogging in January 2009.
Pension Age published a list of its 20 most read articles last year and here they are
1. Appeal hearing date set for 1950s women affected by SPA changes
2. Public service scheme increases for 2020 announced
3. Guest comment: Norton Motorcycles – Pensioners taken for a complete ride
4. Pensions dashboards expected to launch in 2023
5. PDP publishes dashboard progress report and working papers
6. TPR launches DB funding code consultation
7. Fraudster gets 2-year jail term for £70,000 pension theft
8. Over two thirds optimistic about TPR DB funding code
9. TPO upholds complaint against Aviva
10. IDG commissions dashboard data research
11. Govt publishes small DC scheme consolidation consultation
12. 4 in 5 want to remove minimum AE age
13. DWP launches consultation on pension scheme climate risk governance and reporting
14. Nearly 1 in 3 pensions left untouched by people in their 60s
15. Lords debate Pension Schemes Bill Paris Agreement amendment
16. Launch of two pro trustee accreditations risks ‘confusion’ – Dalriada
17. Further Pension Schemes Bill amendments tabled ahead of report stage
18. £2.5bn of pension credit unclaimed – DWP
19. Pension Schemes Bill passes latest stage on road to becoming law
20. Three quarters of savers caught in net pay anomaly are women
What is interesting (to me) about the list is that there is not one article here about ESG. That is not because Pension Age don’t publish such articles, the current site is packed with them, it’s just that people are more interested in the convoluted legal and illegal matters that govern how we do our jobs when they read the pensions press
The list suggests to me that the agenda of most people in pensions is not about investment at all but about pension scheme management. The wider social , environmental and governance issues are secondary to issues to do with funding, data management , tax and the scandalous behavior of those intent of ripping pensions off. Which is why we have independent bloggers like henrytapper.com
This accords with my own blog stats that suggest pension people do not find making my money matter that exciting. Even when Richard Curtis & Co make a high class video promoted in the Guardian like this…
The result is less than 2500 views in the first 7 days of publication. The content has not yet found a voice that people listen to – the content matters but (as yet) the video doesn’t.
You cannot control what people read (unless you run North Korea), you can only hope virality comes your way and for the right reason. I published a blog early in 2009 which in 2018 was read over 25,000 times. It simply re-tells a Danny Baker story about an employee whose job was to be sacked. It’s not a blog I’m proud of but it is obviously on a link to some website somewhere and it gets me a load of American readers to this day.
Yesterday I published an article about the impact of two mutations of the Covid-19 virus, it was written by Louis Rossouw , a South African actuary and was simultaneously published by Covid-arg.com as part of the Actuarial Response Group’s amazing work in 2020. Within a few hours of the article appearing yesterday morning, the Government announced the first two cases of the South African strain in the UK. What was – I thought – a worthy academic study , had now major relevance and I hope that Louis’ work will be referenced by more than those who read my or the actuary’s postings.
But I need an answer to the question “what matters?”. What matters is the capacity of what you are doing to make a difference. Sadly, much of the good stuff never gets published (hat tip to Gray’s elegy written in a country churchyard) and much dross gets general circulation (like my Danny Baker story). It’s no use getting angry about this. Most of the stuff that appears in the pension dailies (as the internet has made them), is dross, a simple republishing of stories fed journalists through press rooms and PR agencies. Most of this doesn’t matter other than as an amplification of received ideas. It is not what you might call “thought leadership” mainly because there is little
money value in thought leadership.
What matters is a firm moral compass and the integrity to stick to it, which is why there will continue to be a place for blogs like mine for many years to come. The people who publish their work on my site have an intention to improve things and since the purpose of my blog is to restore some confidence in what I think matters, I am always open to articles that further that aim.
What mattered most yesterday?
Despite Louis’ immaculate timing, what mattered most on my blog yesterday was an announcement that the great social welfare academic John Hills had died. Nearly a third of all “reads” yesterday were to find out more about Professor Hills and – I hope – out of respect for him.
People matter more than anything and this is why five times as many people read an article about John Hills as watched a cracking video on making money matter.
What matters is what touches us deeply. The sober work of the Covid-19 actuaries, the profound thinking on pension scheme funding and the work of John Hills and those on the Pensions Commission 15 years ago – these are the things that I value and which my blog will continue to promote in 2020.
Chasing after “reads” is a mug’s game and ends in disappointment and despair. I will write in 2021 for myself and not to be read and I hope that those who publish on my site will do the same.
Happy Christmas Eve – may tomorrow matter to you.