I’ve worked in financial services for a very long time and I've been fortunate enough to work with and get to know some very talented people. One such talented individual sadly passed away last week. Mike Morrison’s passing was a huge shock to all who knew him.
Mike and I first met in 1990 when he applied to join Provident Life’s technical team. I had no hesitation in recruiting him – not only for his obvious technical ability but because he was so affable and outgoing – not always attributes associated with technical pensions experts.
For the next 10 years Mike and I developed our professional advisers' division. Our innovative initiatives in the early days of Sipps along with flexible annuities and then income drawdown suited Mike down to the ground and he was a key part of the team that took the pioneering messages to the adviser marketplace.
Mike loved nothing better than to be on the road talking to advisers – and leaving his desk behind him – a desk which like those of most technicians was always piled high with papers and documents.
During our time at Winterthur (Provident Life changed its name to Winterthur in 1995) Mike joined me on several adviser roadshows across the country.
For him not only did it provide an opportunity to demonstrate his expertise as a technical commentator – it was also a chance to visit a wide range of restaurants and hostelries and taste some craft ales or some new world wines.
Those were demanding but also hugely enjoyable times. We did a number of double acts at the early IFP conferences at Wadham College Oxford and Robinson College Cambridge. I remember one occasion when we decided to try and keep our audience incentivised to remain awake by challenging them to spot as many Oasis song titles as possible during our talks. However, Mike was never one to keep to a script and it rapidly became chaotic. Some might say it was a morning glory – we certainly didn’t 'look back in anger'.
Mike’s interest in music was well known. He claimed to be a punk aficionado but those who followed his 'earworms' on Twitter will know he had a very eclectic taste. From The Carpenters (Karen’s voice apparently brought him to tears) to Jackie Wilson – and from the Style Council to Chicory Tip – Mike’s Twitter account was a treasure chest of golden oldies.
But of course Mike was best known for his extraordinary knowledge of all things pensions and for his exceptional ability to communicate complex technical matters simply and effectively.
Never short of an opinion, Mike’s presentations were always full of humour and laced with topical cartoons and quips. It was that style and bonhomie that made him such a popular presenter and a true friend of the adviser community. He was never happier than when engaging in conversation with advisers with a glass in hand – be it the lifetime allowance, the latest test score or the events at the Majedski stadium under discussion.