This year I’ll be writing a monthly diary. It’ll be a round-up of interesting snippets from interviews I conducted for articles and conversations with contacts. I’ll also include links to recent articles and blog posts. I aim to give you a better idea of the topics which interest me. If it sparks an idea for a project we could work on together, then please do get in touch!

Capital for all

Could DC schemes help to provide capital for small regional businesses to flourish? Nico Aspinall, Chief Investment Officer at The People’s Pension raised this idea in a recent interview. Much of the money from pension contributions is invested in index funds. This effectively funnels money from small businesses into large firms. In other words, money from small companies is helping to finance large, well-capital international giants while the minnows often struggle to access funding. He argued DC schemes should work together to make it easier for members of small pensions to reinvest in their own businesses so regional companies could flourish. Read more about these ideas and how master trusts can better expand their investment universe in my article here.

The power of seven

A conversation with Mark Scantlebury of Quietroom, started over coffee before the Defined Contribution Investment Forum and continued over toast and poached eggs in Clerkenwell, yielded a startling observation: it takes seven face-to-face interactions with a client before they will agree to work with you. It’s a reflection of how we build our networks – we take time to trust one another. People bond by chatting at events, introducing you to others and sharing ideas. Over time, building these relationships starts to feel good. All of sudden, you walk into a room and you have friends. And then, when trust has been established, people start to buy from you. Mark said: “When we win work from a new client, we look back and it’s more often than not we’ve met at least seven times.” There is a good reason why we think the number seven is lucky!

Are 45- to 55-year olds the lost generation?

Auto-enrolment has been a great success, reversing the slow decline of the number of people in occupational private pensions in the UK. But its success is masking a problem: the generation which follows the baby boomers will lack their retirement wealth. That’s because the generation aged 45 to 55 had a large gap with minimal pension coverage when DB closed and before auto-enrolment kicked in. The scale of the problem can be seen data from the Office for National Statistics: the number of active members slowly dwindles from around 10 million in 2000 to around 8 million in 2013. This could be a lost generation with inadequate pension pots. Yet few seem to recognise the scale of the challenge and there are no obvious ways to address the issue. You can read more about this and other challenges for at-retirement in this article.

Surviving January

January is the hardest month. The darkness of December seems cosy and atmospheric, offset by parties, carol concerts and twinkling Christmas lights. The month that follows is difficult – the lights have gone, social events dry up and life is dreary. But you can put its dullness to good use: time to turn those vague resolutions into solid plans. I’ll be spending it thinking about how to broaden my network. Building a business when there’s only one of you can be difficult – it’s up to you find new clients, do the work and make sure you get paid. So it makes sense to use my network to find more work through recommendations.

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