Last year’s Pensions Aspects Live was a hugely successful event for PMI and won a prestigious award. As a result, the bar was set particularly high for this year’s event. It did not disappoint.
This year, we chose a new venue, The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), as it offered the opportunity to develop further the practice of allowing attendees to select one of three sessions during the course of the day. Splitting the programme into streams had been a new development in 2018, and its success prompted its expansion this year.
After greeting attendees, the keynote address was given by Sir Hector Sants, who is Chair of what is now known as the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS).
Sir Hector discussed the difficulties associated with ensuring that the public had access to impartial information about increasingly complicated financial products. He stressed the importance of helping people make informed decisions about their finances, but before developing a strategy, he would be in listening mode and welcomed input from the industry.
Adrian Cooper of TPT Solutions then considered the issues associated with the consolidation of Defined Benefit Consolidation, and predicted that new consolidation models would enter the market in the near future. This is likely to be an area where many PMI members will develop a career.
The final session before the morning coffee break saw Mark Baker of Pinsent Masons discuss the forthcoming Pensions Bill. He was followed by Richard Gibson of Barnett Waddingham and Mark Grant of CMS, who considered the possibility that the 29 year-old problem of GMP equalisation might soon be resolved. It is galling for older members to note that there are PMI members who were not even born at the time of the Barber Judgment!
Matt Richards of the Pension Insurance Company, John H Smith of Siemens, and Stuart O’Brien of Sackers then delivered a joint presentation on the role of buy-ins in a derisking strategy. The session covered the provider market and how it was segmented, then moved onto the practical aspects with a case study of a buy-in.
This was followed by the first of two breakout sessions serving three separate streams. PMI’s Technical Consultant moderated a fascinating panel discussion in the Royal Mail’s adoption of a Collective Defined Contribution Scheme. Elsewhere, Lesley Carline led a discussion on Financial Wellbeing with the University of Lincoln, providing an engaging and informative case study which provided much food for thought. Elsewhere Vice President Lesley Alexander chaired a session addressing the Roadmap to Retirement.
The first session after lunch saw PMI Board Chair Alan Whalley lead a discussion about Environmental and Social Governance (ESG). Panellists included Ingrid Holmes of Hermes, Cindy Rose of Aberdeen Standard Investments, and Dr Gabrielle Walker. Takeaways included the need for positive engagement rather than exclusion. They were followed by Gary Crockford of Buck, and Kay Libby of Age UK Bristol, who presented jointly on the impact on retirees of pension scams and the measures needed to combat them.
The day’s business concluded with a second round of breakout sessions. Council member Chris Parrott moderated an engaging discussion about Employer Covenant followed by presentations on transfers and scheme mergers. Lesley Carline led sessions addressing cyber security, what pensions could learn from open banking, and finished off with the pensions dashboard. Finally, Lesley Alexander’s three sessions examined DC governance, Communications, and Master Trust authorisation.
Given the sheer amount going on within the pensions industry, it needed to be a very ambitious programme, but the thorough work of PMI’s events team ensured that all ran to time and was of a consistently high quality. Streaming allowed our attendees to select topics that were of particular interest to them and once again, PMI delivered an outstanding conference. Bring on 2020!