The industry seems to be full of the same familiar commentators discussing the same old issues. Lesley Carline argues it is time to give a new generation a chance.
I was recently struck by a Victor Meldrew moment while reading a write-up of an industry round table. I realised that the same old topics and issues continue to be discussed by familiar commentators. Later, at a conference, I had the same realisation while surrounded by a sea of industry stalwarts. It made me wonder - where are the future leaders, the future thought provokers, the future doers?
The industry is often seen as an arena for grey haired men in suits, however we know this is not the case - over recent years it has become one of variety and colour. Recently, we saw the colourful character of Kevin Wesbroom retire from Aon after 40 years with the firm. Kevin leaves some big shoes for his successor to fill. Are we giving those climbing the ranks the opportunity to excel in these roles?
As an industry, we focus on ensuring the next generation of administrators, actuaries and lawyers are qualified in their respective fields - but how do we encourage their overall development? At the Pensions Management Institute (PMI), we often ask organisations to put forward speakers and they are generally happy to provide a senior individual to speak on a topic. Some individuals will even have conference speaking written into their job specification, but they are a select few.
How does the ambitious, young pension professional develop as a speaker and demonstrate their knowledge and expertise? Often, they are the ones at the coalface and have perhaps more practical insight to impart to the audience. The NextGen movement is an excellent initiative in enabling the younger or less experienced pension professionals to come to the fore, giving them a platform to be heard. There is no ageism about it, as the scheme is aimed at all newcomers to the industry regardless of their age.
However, it is not just about speaking at conferences - and we need to expose young professionals to the industry in other ways, through article writing, research and networking with peers. Several firms have introduced events such as speed networking, where employees get to spend time with senior individuals, creating connections and relationships which will help them in the future. The PMI London Group has in fact carried out its own event and other firms continue to develop excellent mentoring programmes to help develop their teams.
Another area where we have looked to encourage new talent is through the PMI's Student Essay Competition, where students responded to an industry hot-topic question. The aim was to allow the students to demonstrate how they could think outside the box and look to solve a known issue within pensions.
With the first set of essays reviewed, it was heartening to read the responses which demonstrated clear, concise communications which are integral to our industry. They also showed the pride and care we want from people involved in pensions. Several were quite left-field, showing some great creative thinking. The winner and runners up will hopefully receive additional kudos from their companies for having the gumption to show their commitment to their self-development.
Perhaps the Victor Meldrew moment was unfounded and there are plenty of ambitious young pension professionals vying to be the next thought leader, excellent speaker or pensions guru. If organisations truly want to develop their people, let them out to speak at conferences and seminars. A fresh face and a fresh view are always welcome.
Lesley Carline is president of the Pensions Management Institute
PMI president Lesley Alexander and the institute's immediate past-president Lesley Carline talk about the challenges of Covid-19 and the opportunities and challenges the industry faces in the future.
The Pensions Administration Standards Association (PASA) has announced global consultant Deloitte as its expert knowledge provider for data.
This week’s top stories included further support for an overhaul of the pension tax regime, while the Treasury confirmed the Retail Prices Index will be reformed by 2030.
XPS Pensions posted a 9% increase in revenues during the six months to 30 September – a rise driven by a number of large client wins.
Here they are - the winners of the 3rd annual Women in Pensions Awards...