Adrian Boulding – let’s look back with wonder!

When Adrian Boulding left Legal & General in 2015, he had already built a reputation as someone who was on the consumer’s side.

I remember sitting behind him when John Denham was discussing the cap on stakeholder pension charges, the general mood among the insurers I was sat with was that 1% pa could never turn us a profit and allow us to pay funky commissions to our salesmen. Adrian piped up , telling the Minister that Legal & General would prefer a lower cap of 0.5%. He recalls feeling a sharp pain in his lower back as someone kicked him through his chair. He reckons that’s my only contribution to “nudge theory”.

Legal & General did indeed cap its workplace pension charges at 0.5% in the early days of auto-enrolment and Adrian and Tony Filbin were responsible for many savers, including me, getting a much better deal from our saving, than had we all stuck with the consensus view of a cap at 0.75%.

Adrian and Tony were also responsible for digging the insurance industry out of the pensions mess they had got themselves into prior to the RDR, through iniquities such as consultancy charges, active member discounts and dodgy cap-busting using “hidden charges” within the fund to get round the cap on AMCs. When the Office of fair Trading came knocking, the insurers were heading for a painful time with the Competition and Markets Authority. It was Tony Filbin and Adrian Boulding who brokered a deal with the FCA that led to the formation of IGCs and insurers pulling back from the brink.

And Adrian , along with Paul Johnson of the IFS and David Yeandle of the EEF,  can claim in 2010 to have given Auto-Enrolment the strongest of nudges when co-authoring “Making Auto-Enrolment Work“, the document that convinced Steve Webb to implement what he now calls Britain’s greatest pensions public policy success.

All this happened before Adrian walked through the door of NOW pensions.

But in the 7 years since arriving at NOW, Adrian has not slackened the pace. I’m putting aside the work he does as a trustee and for Spire Pensions (important as that is).

Since arriving at NOW, Adrian has seen that master trust through new ownership, through the master trust assurance framework and through numerous traumas as NOW’s chaotic administration, lumpen investment strategy and awkward charging strategy have had it in the public eye for all the wrong reasons. NOW is the largest (by membership) of the net pay master trusts, it has one of the lowest balances per pot, it has an atrocious record in paying transfers and it has happily taken on Uber’s muslim workforce without so much as a Sharia fund. How it has survived, is largely down to public and regulatory confidence in Adrian Boulding.

NOW is the only master trust to have offered (voluntarily) some redress for the net pay anomaly – a Boulding initiative. Adrian has led the Net Pay Anomaly Group’s drive to put an end to the overpayments made to workplace pensions by those auto-enrolled on low earnings

NOW has taken the lead in the small pots initiatives and Adrian is the architect of the member exchange idea that could and should be operative by now, were it not for the filibustering of some of NOW’s rivals.

Yesterday, Adrian walked out of NOW with his head held high,

Wherever the Tardis takes Adrian, it will lead to good things. We know he will be working on CDC with the RSA, because he’s told us!


In the meantime, he should look back with pride, we can look back with wonder.

About henry tapper

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