RegulationAug 1 2014

Parallels with the World Cup

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Last month we looked at some of the pension changes introduced in the Budget and I promised to share with you a golden opportunity that the industry missed. But before doing this, it is worth reflecting on lessons from the football World Cup.

Despite England’s early exit it was a good competition, full of passion and commitment. I was particularly impressed with the USA and their desire to win and also with Germany for their ability to work as a team. Yet for me the competition was also tainted by poor refereeing and an attitude that fouling and cheating was all right providing you did not get caught. Where is the virtue of fair play that is supposed to be part of sport?

Indeed, while the World Cup was taking place, I went to watch one of my grandsons take part in a football tournament. He is only eight and yet the event demonstrated a clear teaching for respect for all. What example did the World Cup’s players give to the next generation of footballers and what parallels do we have in our profession?

Just like financial services, football is a game with set rules. In the same way that dangerous tackles, fouls and diving should not be tolerated in professional football, we in our profession should not condone unethical or illegal practices.

Unless we, the practitioners, encourage and enforce standards our reputation will remain poor with both consumers and the government.

In my opinion, many in the industry have become too accustomed to chasing short-term profits and personal gain. We need to remember that long-term profit is only generated when we place the client first.

An example of the short-term, self-serving approach sometimes adopted by our sector was demonstrated to me a few years ago when I was asked to project manage a pension review.

In essence this involved me speaking to most of the industry – both individual companies and their respective trade bodies. What became apparent was that some organisations were keener on maintaining the status quo (and high margins) rather than recognising that politicians (of all political persuasions) were demanding that the industry cut costs and improved practices.

I am quite proud of the report that was produced, although I cannot take total credit for this as the language, tone and some conclusions were set by others.