PLSA AC 21: Industry urged to use 'collective voice' to protect and nurture pensions

The pensions industry must use its voice and “collective wisdom” to help nurture and protect the pensions landscape, and legislative and regulatory framework, outgoing Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) chair, Richard Butcher has said.

Speaking at the PLSA Annual Conference 2021 in a speech marking the end of his time as chair , Butcher reflected upon his own personal story to emphasise the importance of pensions as a “lifeline”.

It was this personal experience, he said, that helped him to “know why pensions are so important”, and why they are “first and foremost always about security”.

“I know that pension schemes of all shapes and sizes need to be nurtured and protected so that they can provide that security," he said, continuing: "I know the pensions legal and regulatory framework also needs to be nurtured and protected. So as to allow the pension schemes to provide security.

“And that's why I know the PLSA is important. Our mission is to provide pensions for all, but our purpose is to nurture and protect pensions framework. We are the foremost, and most influential industry voice to do that. In fact, we're fantastically influential.

"We are influential because of what we are, as well as what we say. And what we are is an aggregation of trusted expert, common sense voices."

He continued: "The PLSA is not a voice. It is an aggregation of your voices. In fact, that aggregation of your voices is one of our superpowers, another is our diversity of thought and opinion."

"When I started as chair, I told you I wanted to open up a PLSA. I did this because I believed, firstly that all of our members had the right to enter that aggregated voice, but also because I believe in collective wisdom, and those two superpowers. And that initiative to open PLSA worked beyond anything I could have hoped for."

Butcher also clarified, however, that the industry also needs to " nurture and protect the chance to use that voice", warning that the PLSA is not invulnerable, with Covid-19 having been a "really tough" challenge.

"It's only the prudence of boards over many years, that protected us, yet we have so much more important work to do nurturing and protecting the pension framework," he said. "So you need to nurture and protect the PLSA."

Butcher also called on the pension industry to support incoming chair, Emma Douglas, in address the future challenges that face the pensions landscape, to ensure they can provide "first, foremost and always, security".

He concluded: "I stood as chair because I believed, and still believe in the importance of diverse and collective wisdom, our collective wisdom, our collective ability to influence the fundamental vital importance of our mission, purpose, very existence and because I know that without us pension schemes will be much less likely to provide the security that members need."

"Thank you for giving me four years as chair. Emma is going to be a great chair, but she and the rest of the team have some massive challenges ahead. The challenges of continuing to nurture and protect the pension schemes, and the legislative and regulatory framework, so they can provide first foremost and always security.

"But even the greatest chair cannot do this on their own, she can only do this with your help and support with your aggregated voice. For the sake of our mission, our purpose, for my mum Pat and others like her, please, nurture and protect the PLSA and give us your help and support, and most of all, your voice."

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