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Inspiration or technical knowhow?

Inspiration or technical knowhow?

Anyone working in pensions knows it’s hard to engage with consumers on the subject of retirement saving.   Being knowledgeable about the product is not enough. It’s much more fundamental than this.  It’s about encouraging individuals to recognise saving for retirement is vital, and that any saving must be adequate for personal circumstances. Matching expectations to savings as they accumulate, monitoring progress, and where necessary, adjusting savings when things don’t go according to plan are also key.  Inspiring individuals to plan ahead and to take positive action has therefore much less to do with transferring technical expertise and knowhow and more about   being persuasive, charismatic and convincing. Being an inspirational leader not a technical guru.

Pensions professionals are generally able to develop their expertise in all things pensions; there is much to learn, maintain and specialise whatever the role. To ensure the pensions industry continues to develop and the right messages reach and encourage the consumer, our leaders also need to demonstrate their ability to lead.  

Professional diversity

There is much diversity and specialism within the pensions industry. Its leaders do not simply come from the pensions administration and management stable.  Thought leaders operate across a range of different and emerging disciplines, for example, investment, human resources, actuarial, accountancy and legal services to name but a few.  Leaders need the skills and expertise both to inspire direct reports, who in turn can encourage the consumer, and to lead across a variety of disciplines.  The pension industry’s leaders of tomorrow will be selected from a range of different disciplines and collectively need to demonstrate a level of vision and imaginative thinking capable of sustaining retirement saving in the 21st Century and beyond.

In April 2015 the most seismic reforms to pensions in almost a century will come into effect.  Offering scheme members greater flexibility in the way they can release their savings at retirement affords greater responsibility for the industry as a whole and acts as catalyst for industry innovation both in terms of products and leadership initiatives. Consumers and practitioners will expect much greater input and guidance from their industry leaders.

Leading the way

Here at the NAPF Academy we consider it essential we equip our leaders not only with technical expertise but also with the skills to lead. During 2015 the Academy is offering leadership training opportunities specifically to support our industry’s leaders and those who aspire to become leaders in the future.  Automatic Enrolment has brought many more employees into the retirement savings arena and it’s now more common for HR professionals to be responsible for pensions and reward strategies. It is essential these leaders are equipped to take their organisations forward and to manage their employees’ retirement planning effectively.

Developing industry leaders

The first of two initiatives is the Middle Managers Leadership Programme.   Working in partnership with McCarron Heal Ltd, an experienced provider of leadership programmes both in the private and public sector, the programme is suitable for pensions practitioners from a range of sectors and specialisms, including human resources professionals.  Running over a period of four months beginning in April 2015 participants will benefit from sharing experiences with each other and learning from senior pensions professionals who are able to highlight specific leadership issues they have faced during their careers in pensions.  

The second initiative is the Senior Executives Leadership Course. This two-day course is provided in partnership with Chicago Booth School of Business, the second oldest business school in the U.S. established in 1898.  Held at the School’s London campus and delivered by Tanya Menon Professor of Education at Chicago Booth Business School, this course will help Chief Executives, Chief Investment Officers and senior executives working in the reward, pensions, investment or human resources sectors, to develop the skills required of every successful leader.  The course encourages systematic approaches to decision-making, will improve personal effectiveness and provides the opportunity for professionals to share experiences among their peers and industry leaders.

The NAPF Academy leadership initiatives are the first of their kind within the reward and pensions sector. They open up exciting new professional development opportunities for the industry’s leaders and potential leaders. While industry professionals have always had access to leadership programmes this is the first time they have been offered training which has been developed specifically for their own sector.

The pensions industry is about to embark on a new era in retirement planning history.  Its leaders need to be ready to lead effectively in an environment which will bring new demands arising from the greater freedom and choice afforded to employees with pension savings to deploy. Engaging in learning provided by leadership experts and successful industry professionals is one way to ensure industry leaders develop in a manner which matches these new challenges. 

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader”.

(John Quincy Adams, 6th President of the United States).    

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