Redington managing director Marian Elliott picked up the Adviser of the Year award at PP’s Women in Pensions Awards. She talks to Holly Roach about her success.
What does winning this award mean to you?
I feel honoured to have won this award, especially given the awesome shortlist of women, making huge contributions to the industry.
It does however feel bitter sweet: The fact there's a need for awards dedicated solely to women shows that - despite making great strides in a short space of time - we still have a long way to go.
I'd love to see the industry focus on broader diversity and inclusion, not just gender. I see this in practice working at Redington where a diverse culture helps us to make better decisions. In my experience, diversity does drive innovation because it fosters an inclusive atmosphere that allows debate from genuinely different perspectives.
What is the most important lesson you have learned in your career?
To be vulnerable. I spent a long time pretending that I didn't struggle with anything and could 'do it all' which in practice created a barrier between me and others.
Most of us have heard of sayings like "life begins at the end of your comfort zone" but really the more we all share the things we've struggled with, alongside our achievements, the more we can relate to one another and create psychological safety.
It's this acceptance of failure which allows us to challenge ourselves - otherwise we'll only ever set ourselves a limited range of goals we can definitely achieve, and possibly miss out on huge opportunities as a result.
What has been your greatest achievement, or one that you are most proud of?
This is a cop out but I can't name one huge stand out achievement - for me, it's about taking the time to celebrate the small wins - whether that be a 'lightbulb moment' with someone I'm mentoring, or getting a project over the line for a client, or even the laptop connecting on the first attempt when presenting during a meeting (!)... All these smaller wins add up to achieving the big goals.
What has been your experience working as a woman in the pensions industry?
My experience hasn't been traditional, even from entry. I didn't go to university, and got my actuarial qualification by studying and working at the same time, so I've always been a bit different from my peers.
I felt this gender/age/education background difference most during my time as an independent trustee, where I looked very different from others on the boards I sat on. But this difference has never felt like it restricted my opportunity set - there were at least as many positives as negatives.
That said, I am not all that 'different' - there are many people either in the industry or looking to join who feel much more uncomfortable than I ever did interacting with others in the financial industry. We need to start looking at intersectionality, a concept which considers the reality that we all have multiple identities that intersect to make us who we are. My experience as a < 40 white female actuary or independent trustee could be completely different to a < 40 black gay female who may incur discrimination of a kind that I've never encountered.
Looking at diversity beyond race, gender and age will allow us to implement initiatives to make it easier for those who have different education levels, religious beliefs, mental health issues and socio-economic backgrounds.
What is your top tip for women looking to progress or start a career in the pensions industry?
Network! The pensions industry is all about people, the people we work with and the people we serve. There is a real need for collaboration across different disciplines, given the multi-faceted nature of pensions problems, and so you get to meet and work with a great variety of people.
Actively listen, share your ideas and perspectives and create long-term relationships. This isn't just for your own benefit, but having an adviser who can work well with others is great for your clients too.
CV: Marian Elliott
Position Marian Elliott is a managing director at Redington, a firm she joined in January 2018.
Previously Elliott has over 17 years' experience in the pensions industry. She held a scheme actuary certificate for 11 years, has 10 years' experience as an independent trustee and has advised some of the UK's largest companies on their pension and risk management strategies. She sits on the council of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries, as well as on its pensions board, and was the winner of the inaugural Geoffrey Heywood achievement award from the International Association of Consulting Actuaries. Prior to joining Redington, Elliott led Deloitte's trustee advisory practice in London and has also worked at firms including Spence & Partners, Atkin & Co and KPMG.
Redington is in the process of securing private equity backing from Phoenix Equity Partners for an undisclosed amount.
The Pension Protection Fund (PPF), in partnership with Dun & Bradstreet (D&B), has published its plans for updated insolvency risk services and is consulting on its approach to insolvency risk measurement from 2021.
The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has published research on leverage and liquidity to better gauge the potential risks for defined benefit (DB) pensions and inform the Bank of England’s Financial Stability Report.
The first formal review of the Local Government Pension Scheme (Scotland) (LGPS) has revealed all 15 of its funds are in a strong financial position.
In this week’s Pensions Buzz, we want to know if you think defined benefit trustees should help their members source financial advice.