It’s not what you say, it’s the way that you say it

In my last blog I talked about how things that at first seem intimidating usually do not turn out to be as scary. I have been faced with this challenge at university and now in work. When people ask me what I do, I have to think really carefully about how I answer. Mentioning the…

Not so scary…

We wrote last week about “national derivatives misconceptions week” – a period that started with something scary and ended with an explosion. This reminds me a little of my first experience at the PLSA. It started with doing something scary: going to the PLSA itself (my first industry event). It fortunately ended without an explosion,…

Doris

Doris is a Highland cow who lives on my family’s farm on the edge of the Peak District. As you can see she seems quite happy in the snow. In fact Doris is comfortable whatever the weather. Most of the other breeds of cattle struggle in the winter but Doris can easily cope due to…

Probabilities – the gift that keeps on giving

When I left the office last night the probability of Trump winning the US presidential election was 15%. We had some very keen people in the office tracking the odds as shown below: In the night the probability of a Trump win dipped to 9% – we all now know what happened next. I am…

Do valuation assumptions matter?

I have read with interest First Actuarial’s article on recasting  the PPF7800 index using, what they believe may be, more “realistic” assumptions for asset returns. For those who haven’t read it the data look promising. The latest PPF7800 numbers quote a funding level, based on mark-to-market assumptions, of 78%(i.e. a Gilts based discount rate). First…

Longer than a Snapchat timer – a graduate’s view on pensions

A new flock of recent graduates has been unleashed from university this past summer; starting work across a range of grad schemes. I graduated a year ago, so I consider myself part of that group at 22. At a recent housewarming party I brought up the topic of pensions and mortgage savings: you can imagine…

Being cashflow negative is a symptom, not a cause

There is an increasing weight of discussion around the challenge of schemes being cashflow negative (i.e. pension schemes are net disinvestors as benefits are greater than sponsor contributions). This was specifically raised in the Pension Regulator’s Annual Funding Statement with subsequent research from Hymans Robertson highlighting this as a worry for CFOs. The apparent risk…

The challenges of trial and error

I had the idea for this post at the start of my holiday a couple of weeks ago – the week leading up to the referendum – so, given the events that unfolded following the June 23rd vote, this blog, inspired by the packing of a car, may seem a little inconsequential. However, I think…

Do you trust your Banker?

How many of you reading this would trust a banker?  In recent years it’s been a closely fought battle between bankers and politicians in terms of who the public trusts less. A seemingly never-ending list of scandals has meant that both groups have suffered a hardening of opinion against them. The upcoming referendum on EU…

Thoughts on Steel pensions

As published in Portfolio Institutional The evolving situation with the steel industry has interested me greatly; not only because I got married in Port Talbot, but also because the pension scheme is at the forefront of discussion. This has been most true in the last day or so where the discussion has been  around reducing…