Law is a great degree but being a lawyer really wasn’t for me. Rumpole was sadly divorced from reality. John Mortimer just spun a good yarn.
So, I worked briefly for an insurance broker but ‘selling’ wasn’t my forte either; a disadvantage in an industry whose mantra was “insurance isn’t bought, it’s sold”. Usually with “My Boy” at the end.
I did find the technical aspects of pensions interesting, though. My manager told me that if I wanted to “do pensions properly” I should go to work for a firm of actuaries. So, I did, and it was sound advice.
A non-actuary in a firm of consulting actuaries is a curio. Interesting, but no one knows quite what to do with you. And they didn’t know it, but my ambition was to become their first non-actuary partner.
In fact, being a curio gave me a lot a freedom. The actuarial students were all earmarked early on. This one for pensions, that one for insurance; it was a well-oiled actuary factory. But I was able to wend my way through retirement, insurance and investment silos, learning a lot, doing what sounded interesting and gaining a reputation for taking on assignments which didn’t fit ‘the model’.
I must have been doing something right. I was not the first, but I was the fifth non-actuary to become an equity partner.
Then the firm was acquired by an insurance broker, though no one got called “My Boy” anymore.
I needed a change of direction and Brighton beckoned. I became immersed in pensions regulatory policy at The Pensions Regulator (TPR). I loved it. That long random walk through pensions, insurance and investment with the actuaries gave me an unusual 3D perspective on pensions and how to regulate them.
I also had a terrific team of policy wonks, lawyers, actuaries, financial analysts and others. I think we added positively to the sum of practical pensions regulation.
Asset pooling, something I had played with as a consultant, was the next challenge. We built a fully functioning asset management business from scratch and onboarded our first asset transition of £5.5bn in nine months flat. All in Wolverhampton, of all places.
Everyone told us it would take two years at least, or maybe they thought we would just fall flat on our faces. It was seat of the pants stuff, but utterly thrilling. I led a wonderful, talented team. We can all be proud of what we achieved there.
Now I’m a professional trustee and I’ve just been granted membership of the PMI as an EPMI.
At heart I’m a pensions geek, so the Pensions Management Institute is a good home for me. Unlike the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, of which I am also a member, it’s focused solely on pensions in all their glorious shapes, types and sizes.
I’d like to contribute to the Institute’s professional voice in policy development, influence and participate in its learning and development programmes, and give something to the next generation of pensions leaders.
On the whole, I’ve enjoyed not being Rumpole.
This article was featured in Pensions Aspects magazine October edition.
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