Gareth Tancred has joined the PMI at a time of huge change in pensions. Jonathan Stapleton speaks to him about his plans for the organisation.
- Tancred joins the PMI after four years in charge of The British Institute of Facilities Management
- Demonstrating the value of PMI membership and making the body more agile are his key objectives
- Tancred will also look to enhance The PMI’s lifelong learning capabilities
Gareth Tancred steps into his role as chief executive of the Pensions Management Institute (PMI) inheriting an organisation with some huge strengths, particularly in relation to the qualifications it offers members.
Indeed, the institute's most recent member survey showed that 80% of members valued the qualifications and felt they were helping them enhance their careers and become more employable. In addition, some 65% of industry employers say they actively look for PMI qualifications when they are looking for new hires.
But, despite this great heritage, Tancred says the PMI can't be complacent. He says: "We're very proud of those statistics but we need to build on them. Going forward, we want to consider how we help people more with lifelong learning and to be the development partner of choice for individuals and their organisations going forward."
Tancred envisages this lifelong learning process helping people such as himself – who gained a professional qualification in his 20s and is now, in his 50s, asking what he can do with that qualification to make it relevant in the workplace and to the employers he works with.
"So of course it's about that initial qualification," he says. "It might also be about subsequent qualifications and the continuing professional development (CPD) that maintains the validity of that qualification in the workplace."
Tancred says lifelong learning is about other things as well – including providing quality technical advice and seminars, as the PMI already does.
He says: "We'll be looking to explore how we can help people with that learning over time and how we can engage better with the way that people want to learn in the future."
Tancred adds: "I think the way that people learn these days is very different to the way that people used to learn. For organisations to try to teach people or try to encourage people to learn, we need to look at the ways in which they want to learn. There are so many pressures upon people these days, particularly with time, but also with finances as well. We have to come up with solutions that work for them."
Becoming more responsive
Tancred also says the PMI needs to become more responsive as an organisation.
He says: "We've got to be cognisant of the fact that, if you look at the statistics, our members are managing something like a trillion pounds worth of assets – that's over 50% of UK GDP. That's a massive responsibility.
"So as a professional body representing them, how do we carry that burden of responsibility? And as industry moves quickly – we've seen a lot of changes over the last year with new legislation – how do we respond to that?
"We need to be more agile and more responsive as an organisation and we need to look at ways of engaging with our stakeholders far better."
Video: Gareth Tancred's key priorities for the PMI
Delivering member value
Prior to joining the PMI, Tancred was chief executive of The British Institute of Facilities Management, an experience he feels will be relevant to his work at the PMI.
Tancred says: "One of the things that professional bodies have had to come to realise in more recent times is the need to change.
"Professional bodies have been in existence, in some cases, for well over 100 years. They have done very well during that time but one of the things the recession taught us is that people are now questioning the value they get from professional bodies. People are making this kind of value judgement and professional bodies need to make sure they are offering more value to members."
On top of that, Tancred believes technology has changed the nature of professional bodies. He says: "If you look at what professional bodies have provided in the past, it has typically been knowledge and insight; somewhere to network; and a good source of information – nowadays, you can get much of this on the internet."
Tancred cites places like the specialist groups on LinkedIn as examples – and notes many people in the professional world now have hundreds, if not thousands of contacts in their network.
"Networking virtually is not a hard thing to do anymore," he says. "Professional bodies have to be alert to the fact that there are new competitors on the scene."
In addition to this, Tancred says professional bodies tend to be slower moving than the industry that they serve, largely because they tend to be small in nature and rely a lot on volunteers.
He says: "Professional bodies have had to wake up in the last few years and realise that value for money is key, technology has become a competitor, and that people expect things to happen far more quickly these days than they did ten or 15 years ago.
He adds: "To be successful as a professional body, you have to address each of those three criteria."
Position Gareth Tancred is chief executive of the Pensions Management Institute, a role he took on in March this year.
Previously Tancred trained as an accountant, joining Unilever in 1982. Since then, he has held a number of finance director and operational roles before becoming chief operating officer of The British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM) in June 2009. He became chief executive of the BIFM in 2011.
One of the big challenges the PMI is facing over the coming year is finding a new home after its lease at PMI House – the institute's headquarters on Artillery Lane in London – comes to an end.
While Tancred believes it is unlikely the organisation will move away from its members and key clients, it will give the PMI the opportunity to look at how it works.
Tancred explains: "I think the fact that we're nearing the end of the lease is an opportunity for us. PMI House has served us very well over the last couple of decades, and it is in a fantastic location, but we now have the opportunity to look at how we want to work as an organisation going forwards.
"I think anybody who has visited us here at PMI House will see that we're on several floors. That's not necessarily conducive to good collaborative working. So we're taking the opportunity now to look at the way we want to work going forward and changing our culture to make sure that we can do that. Then when we start looking for a new property we can ensure the new PMI House can work for us in the way that we want it to work."
While it is still early days in his tenure, and he is still learning a lot about both the PMI and the broader pensions industry, Tancred says some things are very clear.
He says: "I think one of the things that is very clear is that the PMI has got an excellent educational base and that's not something we would want to tinker with.
Tancred also says the PMI has some very good people, both internally and among its volunteer base, and a reputation that is "second to none".
But he feels there are certainly some things the PMI could do better such as embracing technology to better engage with members and stakeholders and to better demonstrate the value it delivers members and the wider society as well.
He says: "My challenge will be making the PMI agile and continuing to make it relevant for the next generation."
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