The 2017 Society of Pension Professionals’ Annual Conference focused on Sustainability, Fairness and Engagement

We had 150 bookings and comments included:

Really enjoyable event”

“Good blend of speakers – demonstrated the Society’s breadth of membership”

“I find the breadth of speakers at the SPP Conference helps to provide more useful insight, compared to other events I attend”

“Excellent speakers and content.  Panels worthwhile and lack of grandstanding, which was good”


Highlights from the conference included:

SPP President, Hugh Nolan, setting out the results of recent SPP research on its Members’ views on Fairness in Pensions.

Important findings were that four in five responders believed that young people were disadvantaged by the current system and that just over half considered that the self-employed were treated unfairly.  In contrast 71% of responders said that those about to retire got a good deal.  67% held this view in respect of public sector workers.

A talk by Andy Cork of Allen & Overy on “Scheme Governance: Why bother and what next?”  In his talk he suggested that the Pensions Regulator should take a more principles-based approach to governance.  He said “Let’s have a short code we can all understand.  There could also be policy inspections where the regulator can research and inspect governance policy to see if trustees are doing their job right.  TPR should be telling trustees that they should be doing more self-evaluation and should be honest as to whether they are achieving basic goals.”


A panel on Sustainability of DB Schemes, chaired by Jonathan Stapleton (Professional Pensions), in which Naomi L’Estrange (2020 Trustees), Fiona Frobisher (The Pensions Regulator), Alan Pickering (BesTrustees) and Graham McLean (Willis Towers Watson) discussed the sustainability of DB schemes, looking at whether there is an affordability crisis in DB provision and, if so, whether immediate, radical action is required; whether a precise definition of “stressed” schemes and/or employers would be helpful; and how to deal with those schemes which have no realistic prospect of delivering benefits in full.

A talk on the Impact of Cyber on Pensions by Matt Hawley (PricewaterhouseCoopers) highlighting that the monetary value to criminals of the type of data pension schemes hold is at least as great as sums they might steal directly from schemes and suggesting key protections against cyber fraud and responses when it happened.

A panel on Consumer Engagement with Retirement Saving, chaired by Sam Brodbeck (Telegraph Media Group), in which Meredith Gibson (City UK Pension Plans), Gemma Godfrey ( and Darren Philp (The People’s Pension) reflected on the tendency of most people to be engaged with short-term concerns, rather than the long-term horizons of retirement saving, and addressed the extent to which capitalising on inertia could be as effective as a policy tool as encouraging engagement.

Press coverage

The conference has received considerable press coverage including:

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Supported by  Willis Towers Watson logo