Top 50 most influential people in pensions 2013
From ministers to activists, Pensions Insight reveals 2013’s 50 most influential people in pensions. Our list reveals the decision-makers who are shaping the future of the industry, and we talk to some key players. Read on to find out who made the cut this year
Ros Altmann, director general, Saga
Following a career in asset management, Altmann came to prominence through her support of the Allied Steel & Wire workers who lost their pensions when their company failed. She campaigned for government protection of pension funds, which resulted in the formation of the Pension Protection Fund and, eventually, the Financial Assistance Scheme. Altmann has also campaigned for the Equitable Life policyholders and is a fierce – and frequently vocal – critic of quantitative easing and Nest, fearing the latter will result in lower-paid workers being enrolled into schemes that will provide less than the means-tested benefits they would have received.
Susan Andrews, president, Pensions Management Institute; partner, Trustee Solutions Ltd
Andrews is the president of the Pensions Management Institute, a lawyer and independent trustee. Pensions Insight’s sister magazine Engaged Investor named Susan Andrews independent trustee of the year. Why? She brings a rare combination of legal acumen, fun and a good dose of no-nonsense common sense to her work. She is also finding the time to study for an MBA at Warwick Business School. Despite her heady list of responsibilities, she retains her sense of humour and tops Pensions Insight’s regrettably as-yet-unpublished list of ‘people to enjoy a glass of wine with’.
Gabriel Bernardino, chairman, European Insurance and Occupational Pension Authority (EIOPA)
Bernardino remained in the eye of the storm during 2012 as the UK industry continued to rage against moves to impose to what it saw as profoundly misconceived Solvency II-style rules to occupational pensions. The Portuguese regulator tried to pour oil on troubled waters during his keynote speech to the National Association of Pension Funds annual conference in Liverpool during October. However, a speech at his organisation’s own conference in Frankfurt a month later, in which he called for the authority’s remit to be extended to personal pensions, has increased concerns that EIOPA is empire-building.
Professor David Blake, professor of pension economics, Cass Business School; founder and director, Pensions Institute; chairman, Square Mile Consultants
The Cass Business School’s Pensions Institute, which was founded by Blake in the mid-1990s, remained firmly at the heart of the pension debate throughout 2012. At the beginning of the year, Blake added his name to a letter calling for mergers within the local government pension scheme. In November, Blake was the author of a report that criticised governance weaknesses.
Catherine Howarth, chief executive, FairPensions
Jim Bligh, head of labour market policy, Confederation of British Industry
Bligh leads the labour market and pensions policy team and replaced Neil Carberry as the CBI’s voice of pensions in early 2011. His team lobbies for more effective labour markets, with a broad brief covering policy issues from unemployment and pensions through to human rights and anti-bribery.
Bligh joined the CBI in 2007 and runs its ‘Getting the UK working’ and ‘Infrastruc- ture investment’ projects. His research credentials are backed by a first from Durham and an MPhil from Cambridge in Renaissance literature.
For Bligh, 2012 ended on a high note, with the CBI succeeding in its campaign to change the way pension liabilities are valued in order to ease the financial burden on DB sponsors.
Ronnie Bowie, senior partner, Hymans Robertson, past president, the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries
Bowie has been referred to as ‘the actuary’s actuary’, though being single-minded and with strong opinions, he tends to split opinion among his peers.
Hymans Robertson has a strong association with the public sector and a reputation for being highly traditional, a term which its critics have used pejoratively. Bowie, who has been with the firm since 1980, has acknowledged the partnership structure has limited development but the company has taken steps to alter its structure over the past year to encourage greater participation from employees.
He continues to work as a scheme actuary and investment adviser to a number of large private and public sector schemes and until June was the first president of the newly created professional body for UK actuaries, the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.
John Coomber, chief executive, Pension Corporation
Coomber was appointed as chief executive to the newly specialist insurer of pension fund liabilities in 2005 on his retirement from Swiss Re.
The company was one of the young Turks that entered the market in the mid-2000s with the intention of shaking up the status quo. It and Paternoster (see Mark Wood), stole a march on the traditional insurers and entered into a number of innovative deals. After a quiet few years, Pension Corporation has emerged as the dominant force in the risk transfer sector, taking more than half the buyout and buy-in market share in the first three quarters of 2012.
Its deals included a £20m buyout with the Booker Tate UK Pension Scheme and a £25m buy-in for the 4imprint Group Pension Scheme. It has also launched the first UK publically listed solar finance bond, which matures in 2036. A £400m fundraising resulted in a restructure of the board in October, but Coomber survived that night of the long knives.
Mark Hyde Harrison, chairman, National Association of Pension Funds
Andy Cox, chief executive, Aon Hewitt, UK and Ireland
Cox is responsible for Aon Hewitt’s UK and Ireland out- sourcing and consulting businesses in addition to retirement, investment and HR consulting. His role has also expanded to cover the Middle East and Africa.
Cox oversaw the UK merger of Aon and Hewitt in 2010 and has two decades service with Hewitt, joining from Equity & Law and still directly advises clients, including several FTSE 100 companies, on all aspects of pensions.
The firm recently bought Babcock International Group’s Pensions Administration Office in Caithness, Scotland as part of expansion plans into public sector defined benefit scheme administration. Under Cox’s guidance Aon Hewitt is also continuing to expand its delegated consulting offering and has enticed key industry players back to the firm.
Robin Ellison, partner, Pinsent Masons, chair, Carillion Staff Pension Scheme
Pensions grandee Robin Ellison has infused some of the year’s hottest topics with his expertise. His thoughts on defined ambition were among the most innovative put forward – for example, the employer paying a reduced salary from the point of retirement until death but without spouses’ benefits or inflation increases.
Along with his day job as law firm Pinsent Masons’ head of strategic development for pensions, he is a trustee for several schemes, and a member of Aberdeen’s Pension Intelligence Advisory Panel. He was the first solicitor to be elected honorary fellow of the Pensions Management Institute in 1997 and is a former chair of the National Association of Pension Funds.
A visiting professor at Cass Business School and a visiting senior lecturer at King’s College London, he launched the latest edition of his book, The Pension Trustee’s Handbook, in December.
Vince Linnane, chief executive, Pensions Management Institute
Bill Galvin, chief executive, The Pensions Regulator
Galvin had his work cut out over the past year, with the dawn of auto-enrolment and the continuing problem of defined benefit scheme deficits.
In April 2012 the Pensions Regulator published its first annual funding statement, which sets out guidance for schemes facing their triennial valuations in tough economic conditions. The Regulator also issued guidance ahead of the 31 December deadline for schemes to have up to date data. Whether or not they have succeeded will be a matter for 2013.
Penny Green, chief executive, the Superannuation Arrangements of the University of London (SAUL)
Green is a well-known – and well-liked – pensions industry figure with more than two decades in senior roles.
She spent five years as deputy chief executive of the Pensions Advisory Service before joining the £1.5bn multi-employer scheme in 1998, which has more than 26,000 members drawn from the non-academic employees of the University of London and other organisations.
Under Green, the fund has forged a reputation for invest- ment innovation. Green is a champion of active investment management and uses a tactical group to make strategic allocations to alternative assets.
Green was PMI president 2007-09 and is immediate past president of the Pensions Administration Standards Association.
She is an independent trustee through a connection with BesTrustees.
Ian Greenwood, chairman, Local Authority Pension Fund Forum; chairman, West Yorkshire Pension Fund
2012 was a mixed year for Greenwood. In May, he lost his long-held seat on Bradford Metropolitan District Council council to the Respect Party, whose leader George Galloway won the parliamentary by-election in the city.
He nevertheless retained his chairmanship of the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum, which emerged as one of the most influential voices in the so-called ‘shareholder spring’. The LAPFF was at the forefront of moves to rein in remuneration packages at Barclays and News International, among others. Over the past year the forum’s membership has increased from 46 council pension schemes to 55.
John Haley, chief executive, Towers Watson
John Haley is head of one of the world’s largest consulting firms, serving as the chief executive officer and chairman of Towers Watson since January 2010.
A Watson Wyatt man from 1977, he was president and chief executive and oversaw the merger of his firm with Towers Perrin in 2010. He rebuilt the new company into a global powerhouse and in the process became the six-million dollar man, with his 2011 remuneration for his day job of $6,288,629, according to the Forbes rich list.
Patrick Heath-Lay, chief executive, B&CE
Heath-Lay took over the reins at a defining moment for B&CE. He was appointed chief executive in March, taking over from Brian Griffiths, who had led the construction industry employee benefits provider for a decade.
Before taking on the role, Heath-Lay was director of finance and strategy, having worked his way up over 27 years. B&CE launched The People’s Pension mastertrust to cater for employers’ auto-enrolment obligations in November 2011, opening the firm up to employers from outside its traditional construction base.
Social housing maintenance provider Mears is The People’s Pension’s biggest client, with more than 13,000 staff.
Lord Hutton, chair of MyCSP
Hutton served from 2005-07 as work and pensions secretary under Tony Blair. He left the House of Commons at the 2010 general election and was granted a peerage as Lord Hutton of Furness.
While retaining the Labour whip in the Lords, he agreed to chair the coalition’s Public Services Pensions Commission. After providing the template for the government’s shake-up of the pensions system for public servants, Hutton was appointed chair of MyCSP, the new civil service mutual retirement scheme.
Rodney Jagelman, chairman, the Association of Professional Pension Trustees; director, Law Debenture
After graduating from Cambridge University, Jagelman entered the actuarial world, rising to become a partner at Bacon & Woodrow. After a spell as director of the City-based employee benefit consultants Gissings, he moved to his current role at Law Debenture in 2004.
Jagelman is a former chairman of the National Association of Pension Funds’ City and Eastern Group and has sat on the board of the Society of Pension Consultants.
He has also been chairman of the Pensions Management Institute’s independent pension trustees group, which was re-established as the Association of Professional Pension Trustees with Jagelman still at the helm.
In his spare time, he is heavily involved with the Glovers Company.
Michael Johnson, research fellow at the Centre for Policy Studies and a director of Embrace Success
An investment banker by trade, Johnson worked for Towers Watson before running David Cameron’s Economic Competitiveness Policy Group, working with Oliver Letwin, John Redwood and Lord Wolfson.
Johnson made a name for himself in recent years by challenging orthodoxy within the financial services industry. This approach has marked him out as a maverick.
In his landmark report Put the Saver First, published in September 2012, Johnson described the UK’s pension system as being ‘in the last chance saloon’, putting forward 104 proposals to improve the lot of the long-term saver.
Tim Jones, chief executive, National Employment Savings Trust
Jones was plucked out of the private sector to run NEST, bringing energy and enthusiasm to the project. He has enjoyed a high-flying career, including a stint as chief executive of NatWest’s retail banking arm.
2012 was an important year for NEST, with expectations running high. With clients now including McDonald’s, NEST is looking in a good position – but recently Jones admitted that they have lost client pitches because of its restrictions, leading many to argue they should be scrapped.
John Kay, visiting Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics
Professor Kay’s profile soared in July with the publication of his Department for Business, Innovation and Skills-commissioned review into the health of UK equity markets. His findings particularly focused on what he called a culture of ‘short-termism’. Kay also recommended extending codes of conduct; applying fiduciary responsibilities through the investment chain and the alignment of asset manag- ers and investors’ interests.
Vince Cable, the business secretary, officially responded to the review in November, agreed with Kay’s recommendations and pledged to report on the government’s progress in 18 months’ time.
Chris Martin, managing director, Independent Trustee Services
Alex Kitching, manager, Pension Quality Mark
Under Kitching’s watch there has been a 40% increase in the number of DC schemes which have been awarded the Pension Quality Mark. Steve Webb described the kitemark as “ahead of its time”.
Kitching, who joined the National Association of Pension Funds in 2004, hopes that in 2013 the industry will “get auto-enrolment right”, and the government will press ahead with state pension reform, because “if people are clear on what their state pension will be then they will be clear on how much they need to save”.
Ray Martin, head of pensions and benefits, Royal Bank of Scotland
Martin has one of the highest profiles in the industry, after almost 18 years as a leading light and an elected council member of the National Association of Pension Funds. He has also had key roles at a series of major private sector companies, including AstraZeneca, Airbus, Scottish & Newcastle and DHL, before moving to RBS in 2011.
RBS is one of the UK’s largest funds, with 200,000 members and around £22bn of assets, and over the past 18 months has reduced its equity exposure by £2bn as part of a lower-risk, lower volatility investment strategy. Under Martin, the scheme has reduced its exposure to equity futures and increased allocations to alternatives including infrastructure. Martin also oversaw RBS’ early move into auto-enrolment, re-enrolling the 14,000 members who had previously opted out of the bank’s scheme.
Roger Mattingly, president, Society of Pension Consultants
Malcolm McLean, consultant, Barnett Waddingham
McLean’s background in pensions began as general manager and secretary of the Occupational Pensions Board which, as a civil servant with experience in winding down organisations, he was tasked with closing. Following this, he served as chief executive of The Pensions Advisory Service for 13 years, before joining Barnett Waddingham as a consultant in 2010.
McLean, who is not afraid to speak his mind, has maintained a high profile as one of the leading media commentators on pension issues.
Gregg McClymont MP, shadow pensions minister
Tom Merchant, chief executive, USS
Merchant, who has been chief executive of the £30bn pension fund for academics in UK higher education establishments since 2004, is to step down this year. During his tenure, membership has grown from 175,000 to almost 300,000 and USS is now the second largest private pension fund in the UK.
Merchant led the campaign to make USS more sustainable for the scheme’s employers, which saw him lock horns with the UCU union. However, the move to career average for entrants was eventually accepted and rolled out in October.
USS is looking at de-risking and further diversification of its portfolio. This may include infrastructure – the fund already has 20% of its assets in alternatives.
Bridget Micklem, head of private pensions policy and analysis, Department for Work and Pensions
Micklem started her career at the Bank of England, where she held roles in banking supervision and financial markets analysis.
After a spell at the Inland Revenue, she joined the Treasury in 2004. From 2008 to 2012, she was deputy director of the financial services team, leading the team responsible for Solvency II and other insurance regulation, insurance sector policy, corporate governance and institutional investment, and financial capability.
Since June 2012, she been head of the Department for Work and Pension’s Private Pensions Policy and Analysis division, in which role she has overseen the shaping of the ‘Reinvigorating Workplace Pensions’ white paper.
Raj Mody, partner and head of UK pensions group, PwC
More than a decade ago, Raj Mody was marked out as a pensions industry high flier and appears to be fulfilling that promise. He now specialises in helping large UK and multinational organisations deal with pensions challenges, particularly in the area of derisking. The author of his firm’s methodology for scheme funding negotiations, he has been an innovator in securing a pensions longevity swap and a pension increase conversion exercise for ITV, an enhanced transfer value exercise for Intercontinental Hotels Group.
Mody chairs PwC’s Pensions 100 Club, which invites senior executives from major companies to discuss pension issues and is a fellow of the Institute of Actuaries.
Peter Morris, executive director of pensions, Greater Manchester Pension Fund
Morris is responsible for the administration and investment activities of the Greater Manchester Pension Fund, which has more than a quarter of a million members and assets of around £11bn.
The fund, which comprises 10 local councils, is innovative in its investment strategy, running a property fund since 1990 while providing a blueprint for pension funds wishing to use their assets for local investment.
An accountant by trade, Morris has been involved with the development of the Local Government Pension Scheme, and is a member of the NAPF’s investment council.
Morten Nilsson, chief executive, NOW: Pensions
2012 was quite a year for Nilsson, the affable Dane in charge of NOW: Pensions, one of the highest profile master-trusts to hit the auto-enrolment market. Nilsson has juggled his role as chief executive of NOW: Pensions with helping to launch the trade body the Master Trust Association.
The association will give this industry – which is set to take off with auto-enrolment – a collective voice for the first time. Before his appointment as NOW: Pensions’ chief executive, Nilsson worked for ATP, NOW’s parent company, as head of international operations.
Frances O’Grady, general secretary, Trades Union Congress
There are few prominent roles held by women in the pension arena, but this certainly is one. O’Grady, who has succeeded Brendan Barber, will be one of the most important alternative voices on the impact of pensions reform on the average worker.
O’Grady was appointed deputy general secretary in 2003 after considerable success as TUC campaigns officer. In 1997, she was appointed to head the New Unionism campaign, that launched the Organising Academy which set out to attract create a membership profile that better fits a six million plus membership that is now evenly split between men and women.
Michael O’Higgins, chairman, The Pensions Regulator
As a non-executive director of the Treasury, O’Higgins is extremely well connected. He took on the chairmanship of the Regulator in early 2011. But it was during 2012 that he really made his mark in the pensions world.
The former PricewaterhouseCoopers partner became the front man for the watchdog’s rearguard action against moves to relax the rules governing the calculation of scheme funding levels. Memorably, he described as ‘let’s pretend economics’ the National Association of Pension Funds’ calls to scrap the mark to market method for calculating scheme assets and liabilities.
Alan Pickering CBE, chairman, Bestrustees; chairman, Royal Mail Statutory Pension Scheme
Pickering is one of the best known and well-liked trustees in the pensions industry. He, like Frank Field MP, can lay claim to writing an authoritative report on pension reform that attracted cross-party support but which was ultimately rejected by the government which engaged him.
He was a driving force of Watson Wyatt’s consulting business between 1992-09 and for 20 years before that, worked for the Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications and Plumbers Union.
As chairman of the Plumbing Industry Pension Scheme, he has been closely involved with many industry-wide schemes and in 2012 was appointed independent chairman of the Royal Mail Statutory Pension Scheme.
Pickering has served in many other industry association roles and is chairman of Life Academy pre-retirement association.
Alan Rubenstein, chief executive, Pension Protection Fund
Rubenstein joined the PPF as chief executive in April 2009. He is known for his strong views on investment strategy from his leadership of the NAPF’s investment council. But his appointment raised eyebrows, having come from the collapsed Lehman Brothers financial services giant.
At Lehman, Rubenstein established the pensions advisory group, which brought together equity, fixed income and investment banking services to pension funds and their sponsors.
Before Lehman, Rubenstein was head of the European pensions group at Morgan Stanley and prior to that was chief executive of Lucas Varity Fund Management.
Over the past year, Rubenstein’s highest-profile initiative has been the Pension Infrastructure Platform.
Joanne Segars Chief executive, National Association of Pension Funds
In November 2012, Segars was named the European Federation for Retirement Provision’s first female chair, to coincide with its rebranding to PensionEurope.
The NAPF has engaged robustly with the government on pension regulation and mounted a fierce, albeit ultimately unsuc- cessful rearguard action against moves to cut tax relief on contributions. The association had greater success in its lobbying to change the mechanism for calculating scheme valuations.
Before joining the NAPF in 2005 as director of policy, Segars was head of pensions and savings at the Association of British Insurers. Before that, she held the pensions brief at the Trades Union Congress for 13 years, having begun her career as a researcher and journalist for Incomes Data Services.
Segars was also a board member at Opra, The Pensions Regulator’s predecessor.
Sarah Smart Chair, the Pensions Trust; board member, London Pensions Fund Authority
Smart set out to make a difference when she became an independent trustee and as chair of the Pension Trust’s Trustee Board she appears to be achieving that aim. The mastertrust launched the UK’s first ethical target date fund in 2012.
Smart, a chartered accountant, has worked as a trustee since 2004, becoming chair of the Pensions Trust in 2010, and bringing more than ten years of investment management experience. She is also director of independent strategic company SmartCats Consulting, and a board member of the London Pension Funds Authority.
Margaret Snowdon OBE, chairman, Pensions Administration Standards Association
Snowdon helped to shape important new regulations during 2012. As chairman of the incentivised transfers working group, she played a key role in drafting the code of practice which was published in June.
She is also chairing the monitoring board for incentive exercises, which has been set up to check that schemes are following the code.
As chair of the Pension Administration Standards Association, Snowdon has also been working to improve the quality of scheme administration through a new system of accreditation.
Snowdon left her role as director of operations at buyout firm Lucida after it closed to new business towards the end of 2012, although she continues to act as a consultant.
Stephen Soper, executive director, The Pensions Regulator
Stephen Soper is responsible for policy and operational decisions on current and future defined benefit regulation. Previously head of risk & funding at TPR, Soper was responsible for mitigating risks to member benefits and overseeing all DB casework.
A chartered banker, Soper has more than 20 years experience in banking and insurance, latterly with roles at Zurich and Aon.
Stuart Southall, chairman, Punter Southall
Southall began his actuarial career in 1980 with Duncan C Fraser but following the firm’s acquisition by Mercer, he and Jonathan Punter formed their own company in 1988. Since then, Punter Southall has become one of the UK’s largest consultancy firms, expanding into investment and risk management.
Southall is the immediate past chair of the Association of Consulting Actuaries and remains active in client work. He is also a non-executive director of Neptune Investment Management, an association he has maintained for a decade.
Otto Thoresen, director general, Association of British Insurers
Mike Taylor, chief executive, London Pensions Fund Authority
Taylor has argued that the merger of the capital’s 33 local authority schemes under a single umbrella would save on administration costs but, more importantly, create a body with the expertise to secure better deals from fund managers.
So far the LPFA’s arguments have fallen on deaf ears in London local government. However the pressure on councils to save money by sharing services means that the issue is bound to remain on the agenda.
Janice Turner, co-chair, Association of Member Nominated Trustees (AMNT); trustee, BECTU Staff Retirement Scheme
Despite the advance of professional trustees, the AMNT is growing. The association, which Turner helped to found in 2010, now has 275 members.
In 2012 the association was involved in numerous consultations, including the Red Tape Challenge, and sits on the Department fo Work and Pensions’ Trustees Panel and the Financial Reporting Council’s Actuarial Users’ Committee. Turner also drafted new policy for the Liberal Democrats on private sector pensions, which was approved at the party’s spring conference.
Wendy Taylor, human resources director, Morrisons
Wendy Taylor spent 2012 preparing supermarket giant Morrisons for auto-enrolment. Morrisons attracted widespread media attention after launching an auto-enrolment proposition much more generous than most other employers seem likely to offer. Its cash-balance scheme, in which the employer guarantees the size of members’ pension pots but not the actual retirement income, prompted praise from pensions minister Steve Webb as an example of the kind of risk-sharing he wants sponsoring companies to adopt. Morrisons’ pensions offering was wrapped around a broader financial education programme led by TV personal finance expert Alvin Hall.
Andrew Vaughan, chairman, Association of Consulting Actuaries
Vaughan is the chairman of the Association of Consulting Actuaries, in which role he also chairs the International Association of Actuaries. Of greater consequence for the UK pensions world, he has played a pivotal role in putting flesh on the bones of pension minister Steve Webb’s vision of defined ambition, chairing the Department for Work and Pensions working group that hammered out the recent Reinvigorating Workplace Pensions white paper. In his day job, Vaughan is a partner at Barnett Waddingham, which he joined from Mercer in 2011.
Andrew Waring, chief executive, Merchant Navy Officers’ Pension Fund
Andrew Waring got a standing ovation when he appeared at this year’s National Association of Pension Funds conference – surprising nobody at Pensions Insight. A poster boy for de-risking exercises, as chief executive of the MNOPF, Waring has successfully steered the last man standing scheme to a state of good health. Not content to rest on his laurels, Waring is already making plans for once the scheme’s liabilities are settled. He plans to offer his team’s consultancy skills to other last man standing schemes. Over the course of his long career in finance, Waring has worked in asset management and consultancy, among other areas.
Steve Webb, Pensions Minister
Mark Wood, chief executive, JLT Employee Benefits
With a long career in financial services, which started at accountants Price Waterhouse, Wood became best known in the 2000s as the new man from the Pru when as chief executive, he went on the road to engage with customers upset at the loss of their direct sales reps.
He left Prudential to form the ill-fated Paternoster (see Pension Corporation entry) in 2005, which subsequently closed and was transferred to Rothesay Life in January 2011.
Having taken the role of non-executive chairman at JLT, a restructure this year will see him take on the responsibility of chief executive of JLT Benefit Solutions.