At the end of November, I brought together a number of our past PMI President PMI presidents for an informal supper and catch-up in London.
I cannot thank them enough for the generosity of their time and company on a wintry London night discussing their experiences and recollections of PMI going back almost 30 years. An initial theme from the discussion showed that the problems that we are grappling with today have always been there to some extent e.g. challenges on resources, how to give PMI a ‘voice’ and how to maintain the standard of our exams and qualifications.
The experiences of the various presidents reflected to some extent the era in which they operated. For example, Richard’s ‘sandwich lunch’ meetings with the minister were in a time when there were fewer organisations courting politicians and it was easier to establish a relationship as the expert and unbiased voice of pensions, combined with an ability to explain things concisely. The pensions landscape was also much simpler then, and now the challenge is not just to be concise and influential, but to be heard amongst a raft of different bodies all vying for the Government’s ear. We do appear to be fixated (perhaps it’s all professional bodies), about engagement with government but an interesting debate was, and remains to be had, about how much this benefits our members? Perhaps it is taking PMI staff away from making our qualifications and services more valuable and attractive for our members? We are not and have not purported to be a lobbying organisation, but we do need to reflect our members’ views.
There was a consensus at the meeting that the future for pensions is very different today and that it is very difficult to articulate that future and consequently how PMI should respond. However, my feeling was that the discussion reinforced the importance of maintaining a strong emphasis on the basics of what PMI is there for: its qualifications and supporting its members in developing their careers. Areas such as increasing regulation, the movement from DB to DC, and pensions scheme affordability are all areas that resonated with the past presidents during their terms as much as today but a slowdown in personal learning and development, distrust particularly amongst younger employees of financial services and pensions, and the sheer number of bodies ‘representing’ pension interests is bringing ever more challenge for the PMI team.
An initial theme from the discussion showed that the problems that we are grappling with today have always been there to some extent e.g. challenges on resources, how to give PMI a ‘voice’ and how to maintain the standard of our exams and qualifications.