PLSA AC 18: Pensions industry has a fixed mindset

The pensions industry has a fixed mindset, despite a majority of people believing they have an individual growth mindset, it has been suggested.

Speaking at the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association today, 19 October, author and journalist Matthew Syed said that the pensions industry is closer to a fixed mindset, when looking at the fixed to growth mindset spectrum, but most people would see themselves differently.

In February, Cardano, Syed and professor David Blake published a joint report called Black Box Thinking, focusing on issues surrounding the strength of the covenant and the huge uncertainties surrounding the UK’s 6,000 DB schemes.

Syed said: “We looked at where the pensions industry is on a fixed to growth spectrum. How many would say the pensions industry was in a growth mindset and how many would say it's in a fixed mindset and it's quite revealing.

“In all companies, people say the company is fixed, but they personally are growth. By the way, cognitive diversity is a really good and complex topic. I would throw out there that having different perspectives that germane to the problem you are trying to solve has a greater power than people typically think it would.”

In a quick raise of hands throughout the session, a majority of the audience felt that they themselves had more of a growth mindset, but when asked about the industry, felt that it was more fixed.

The report also suggested that trustee boards and The Pensions Regulator should adopt the Black Box Thinking approach to managing issues faced by defined benefit pension schemes, according to a new report by the Pensions Institute.

The report suggests that there is a “no industry-wide approach for trustees and boards to learn from their mistakes”, in particular, noting, no ownership of mistakes, inertia and herding and blaming others.

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