It’s been a good week for strong women, Westminster has one more female MP and Sarah and Emma have topped the pension appointment pages. They are contemporaries of mine and two people whose company I enjoy, they are showing that pensions is becoming a meritocracy that recognizes that senior appointments don’t have to be decided in the salons of London’s gentlemen’s clubs!
Sarah is a top rate consultant who understands the dynamics of pension funding and has spent enough time working with DC schemes to see things from the member’s (as well as the employer’s) point of view. For as long as I can remember, the Chair of TPR has been an old suit, thankfully we now have Sarah providing oversight.
I had worried that , following a change in the furniture at L&G late last year, we would lose Emma to the labyrinthine policy making going on at the PLSA, PASA, PPI and all policy stations north. But she is joining Aviva, who have had a wholesale desertion of their pension management team to Standard Life. Aviva need Emma Douglas and L&G has another Emma yet!
Just like with ESG, which we should assume provides the guiding principles behind all investment decisions, so with diversity. But we are not at the stage where we can take ESG integration or diversity for granted, there are not enough Douglas’ and Smarts’ yet. But looking through my contact list, I see the names of Gail Izat (Standard Life), Linda Whorlow (Aegon) , Angela Gough and Venetia Trayhurn (Royal Mail), Clare Reilly and Romi Savova(Pension Bee) as well as Elizabeth Renshaw-Ames and Ranila Ravi-Burslem at the aforesaid Aviva.
Formerly male preserves such as BES Trustees and Law Debenture have not only opened up to women but appear to be dominated by them.
If we still thought in terms of a battle of the sexes, I guess us guys would be seen to be in full retreat, but it doesn’t feel like that – not at all.
Last week I was interviewed by another strong woman, Aoifinn Devitt, spent some time listening to Claer Barrett and Jo Cumbo at the FT. My thinking is now influenced by female logic and female sensibility to a point that I consider pensions (for me) a female culture.
This has come too late in my career to iron out the creases in my character, I remain an unreconstructed male chauvinist in many respects and younger generations of my family and my workmates have to live with that (sorry!).
But there is a crack in everything (that’s how the light gets in), even the most solid rocks become porous and pensions and the people in them will absorb and finally become feminine.
Right now I need a couple of blasts from the double barreled shotgun of Douglas and Smart to wake us up to the reality that I am in a different paradigm to the one I grew up in and have worked in these forty years.