When George Michael sat down at the edge of the hotel bar and began to sing "Careless Whisper", it was one of the most wonderful moments in Phil Brown's young life.
The 19-year-old bartender says hearing those soft chords and quiet lyrics from one of the UK's most famous stars was "magical" as a hush fell gently over the small bar area in the Royal Bath Hotel, Bournemouth, back in 1987.
Brown, who is now group director of policy and external affairs at People’s Partnership (formerly B&CE), says: "I was working behind the bar, mixing cocktails. I made one for George Michael – it was a rum concoction – probably a mojito but it was 35 years ago so I can’t be 100 per cent sure.
“He was a lovely, friendly guy, who was at the height of his fame – he was promoting his Faith album and, after being asked about the song by fellow star Terence Trent D’Arby [now called Sananda Francesco Maitreya], who was also in the bar, he started playing the song.
"There weren’t many of us there at the time but those of us who were just sat in silence and listened to him play. It was an incredible moment in time, not to mention a real privilege. Working in hospitality didn’t get any better than that.”
But this did not inspire Brown to head down to Stock, Aitken and Waterman's offices and sign up for a contract as a soloist, although he was itching to do something different.
"Not long after that moment in the Royal Bath Hotel bar, I decided that I wanted to do something new, so I went for an interview for a job in the team that recruited and trained financial advisers at Teachers Assurance in Bournemouth," he says.
Within a matter of months, in 1988, Brown had achieved his financial planning certificate and "there really was no looking back after that".
He says: "The late 1980s was a great time to start in financial services – it was not only lots of fun, but I also witnessed the introduction of statutory regulation.”
Not many people would think statutory regulation is fun but Brown, who once partnered with Chad the Party Eagle (pictured, below) on several financial blogs, is not like many people.
In fact, he enjoys remembering pension rules and gets excited when asked about them.
"At Teachers, I soon discovered that I had an aptitude for remembering pension rules – something that has served me very well for nearly four decades. It wasn’t long before I was promoted to the role of pensions trainer at the age of 23.
"I seem to remember that I was the youngest person to have held that role at that time," Brown muses.
FTAdviser asked Brown what have been the biggest concerns and challenges the pensions industry has faced in all the years that he has worked in pensions.