Today I reflect on 20 years with my employer as we celebrate our 100th year since we were formed by the great George Buck. I suppose 20 years is no mean feat in modern times, although perhaps not that unusual in the actuarial profession where some may argue we are a slightly risk averse bunch!
Twenty years ago we had one desktop computer between five of us, two secretaries to do the typing, and we would send documents to an internal team in a different office for peer review in the mail – they would make it back in a couple of weeks or so. Pensions schemes had three yearly funding valuations using smoothed asset valuations with no requirements to do solvency valuations or more regular checks. The Pensions Regulator and the Pension Protection Fund were nowhere to be seen and the commercial and new business world was, with respect, slightly sleepy. Pensions were not really an issue for corporate U.K. – aside from what to do with those pesky funding surpluses.
We were at the start of a new journey, forced by the actions of Robert Maxwell, characterised by continued regulatory change and intervention coupled with financial and demographic stresses. These stresses have made defined benefit pension provision an increasing burden, resulting ultimately in its demise in a large part. We now deal with the legacy in ways we could not possibly have imagined with daily funding updates, increasingly complicated and inventive funding and insured solutions, and an almost complete shift in the private sector to defined contribution pension provision with exciting online modelling technology as part of a wider integrated online employee benefits experience.
Over 20 years our corporate name has changed many times. It is indeed with excitement we approach a new chapter at the start of 2017 as we become Conduent and split from Xerox. Whilst there has been a lot of change both in the working environment and the name of the organisation I work for, some things have been very constant. Specifically, I continue to work locally, nationally and now very much internationally with hard working, committed, motivated people who pride themselves in delivering high-quality tailored services to their clients. They are also people who enjoy a good laugh and who I consider to be my friends.