Wish I could be like Tom McPhail


One of the pleasures of getting into your sixties is that you don’t feel so guilty about taking a step back from the nitty-gritty. Over the past four weeks, I’ve been spending time listening to people who think a lot about pensions, which has meant me spending a lot more time with Tom McPhail.

Why I wish I could be like Tom McPhail is that Tom is so comfortable in his skin, talking about the things I think about. Witness this wonderful podcast, which is worth listening to – whether you are an IFA or trustee or just someone hoping that pensions will sort themselves out.

Many mornings lying in bed with the earphones in, I’d listen to Tom on Wake up to Money, explaining to the nation what was going on in the pensions bubble. It was like listening to the head boy on speechday. Or David Watts (as Ray Davies sung).


More than a talker

A lot of what Tom talks about, sounds a bit like a “reasonable Henry”, which excites me a lot, because if Tom and I are on the same wavelength, I may be able to paddle my many pension obsessions riding on his eloquence.

Tom is of course known by Government and has acted for Government, most recently in his review of MaPS.

His unrelenting optimism about the power of financial markets to do good is now uncollared by his need to promote the world view of one particular provider (why I suspect he works for the Laing Cat Consultancy rather than Hargreaves Lansdowne. He is his own man -(or monkey).

Tom is keen to get things done.

And I loved following the construction of his house (which I hope he is enjoying now that it is also his office). I admire the way he embraces the outdoors, meeting his with his bike and hat on the London streets, watching his climbing and grimacing as he picks up injuries. Never a complainer, I remember meeting him at the FCA when he looked like he should have been in traction! What a Dad and husband he must be.

Still a healthy gap divides us

While I think Tom and I are more on a wavelength than we have been in the past,  we disagree on enough for our conversations to be rigorous and challenging.

I may write more words, but Tom has a sphere of influence that he’s built over decades of knowing what he’s talking about and being able to convey precisely the message he wants to be heard. That has not always made him right!

Funnily enough, another robust thinker, Al Rush, has been mooting a public discussion this morning

How we organise our later lives depends to a large extent on how successful we are at financing them. Pensions are a way of financing later living but not the only way and both Tom and Al have differing views on what we needs to be done both to avoid pensioner poverty and to assist pensioner prosperity.

It is great that we have the space to have these conversations , unconstrained by corporate interference. Though we have regulatory responsibilities , our main constraint is self-imposed, to ensure that we don’t make fools of ourselves by talking nonsense. This is something that both Al and I can learn a thing or two about from Tom.



About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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3 Responses to Wish I could be like Tom McPhail

  1. Pingback: Wish I could be like Tom McPhail – SHOPPEX NIGERIA


  3. Henry says:

    Oh to be click bait!

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