Opinion  

A fine successor

Financial Adviser

Now the dust has settled on the surprise election victory by the Conservatives last week, it is time to see the evolution of the new Tory administration.

Many of the old faces remain, with Lib Dem gaps being filled by Conservative ministers. Of most interest to financial advisers is the identity of the new pensions minister, who has big shoes to fill vacated by Steve Webb.

Not perhaps that surprisingly, the appointment is Ros Altmann, who before the election was promised the job of minister for consumer protection if the Conservatives won the general election.

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While before the election, Ms Altmann was making it clear she had not been appointed pensions minister, perhaps David Cameron was hedging his bets in case there was another coalition and Steve Webb would stay.

Now the landscape has changed fundamentally, the Conservatives have realised the weakness of the Labour years, in the revolving door of the pensions minister, and the advantages of having someone in place who understands pensions.

Shortly after her initial appointment, Ms Altmann said she was not tribal, and that she has voted for the other parties in the past.

But leaving aside her undoubtable pensions expertise, Ms Altmann has extensive experience dealing with politicians. Under the Labour government she worked for both Number 10 and Number 11, and knows how prickly and unpredictable politicians can be.

With Ms Altmann’s immense experience and charm she is likely to be a dynamic presence in the department of work and pensions, carrying on the reforming work of Mr Webb.

However, she will also come under greater scrutiny and may face a more hostile press than she is used to. She will also likely have to give up any external consultancy she may provide to the private sector. But the compensation of having her hands on the levers of power will more than make up for it.