Either I’m going soft or I’m getting lucky. I’ve listened to two very good podcasts in the past 24 hours and am spending Saturday morning writing them up. The first was the conversation between Moshe Milevsky and Steffan Lundbergh which you can find here. The second is a conversation between Darren Philp, Nico Aspinall and Jenny Segal which you can find here.
I have not always been a fan of these podcasts but I have listened to all fifteen hours and I congratulate the lads on stick ability, they tell us that 75% of podcasts don’t make it to ten episodes and they’ve made 15. The one with Jenny Segal is the best – not just because of Jenny Segal, but because there is more interest, more humor and more balance. We learn about pensions but also about work. Work is boring, pensions are boring but this podcast isn’t.
Segal has that rare gift of combining emotional and intellectual intelligence which makes for fantastic listening. Her take on value for money is that creating simple measures stops people spending time worrying about pensions. Rather than aspiring to have the best pension (or be the best pension), consumers and providers can get on with doing what pensions do with a common purpose and common values.
She describes herself as an “introvert who likes people” and much of the podcast is taken up with how she has developed from wanting to be a doctor to becoming an actuary to thinking and writing about how people work.
There is something very healthy by the way she gets on with it on this podcast, and she is keen to get others to get on with it too, she thinks that people should be satisfiers and that employers who buy workplace pensions for their staff should be satisfied they have done their job rather than worrying that they could do better for their staff.
This is a very rare thing for an adviser to say , because most advisers do not think in terms of thresholds above which everything is the right answer but of selections where there is only one right answer. I have been trying to draw this distinction about the VFM framework, it is a satisfier not a maximiser (to use Nico’s terms). And that is the insight that Jenny brings to the podcast about pensions and VFM.
If I came for that insight, I stayed for the rant against the bureaucracy that surrounds the consumer’s experience of pensions. Paranoia that an omission may lead to litigation, pension regulation demands we throw the book at our customers by way of risk warnings and elaborate explanations. I expect that Jenny has seen the net performance and cost and charges tables that litter trustee and IGC chair statements.
If we can get to three RAG tests that help people understand how their pot has grown, the quality of service they’ve been getting and what their charges have been buying them, then I think she would be happy. We need to speak with images.
Jenny says she wants to change the world- well she changed mine just that little bit. It’s nice to say good things about the VFM podcast this week and next week we have Jo Cumbo, so I expect to say some more next weekend.