Felicity Callard Profile picture
May 26, 2018 41 tweets 22 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
I've been reading up on the 3 UUK nominees for the UUK–UCU Joint Expert Panel: Ronnie Bowie, Sally Bridgeland, and Chris Curry ipe.com/countries/uk/u… #USSStrike 1/
Let's start with Ronnie Bowie, Partner at Hymans Robertson, who 'works as a Scheme Actuary & Investment Adviser to a number of large private & public sector schemes and has built a reputation as a respected expert witness' hymans.co.uk/people-finder/…
I've been going back to 10 or so years, looking at how actuarial science is discussed before and after the 2008 economic crisis. I am outsider to the field – approaching it as someone who researches recent histories & geographies of various human sciences
Here is Ronnie Bowie interviewed in @newsundayherald in 2006, where he is 'refreshingly candid over the role of consultants, the actuarial priests who encouraged 50-year funds to worship at the shrine of 3-monthly performance figures' heraldscotland.com/news/12520496.…
Ronnie Bowie, the journalist argues, sees these 'priests' as driving funds into a 'herd-like mentality' – &, talking of tetrapods, Bowie throws in horses, and lemmings, thrown in for good measure heraldscotland.com/news/12520496.… screen shot of part of article linked to in tweet, starting with sentence
There is need for public sector reform, Bowie argues. But he also gestures to potential future industrial relations problems ten years on (2016) – if a two-tier pension benefits system is installed heraldscotland.com/news/12520496.…
Bowie became President of Faculty of Actuaries in 2008 actuaries.org.uk/council-instit…. He appears in several 2009 newspaper articles reflecting on actuarial profession after economic shocks of 2008 – a shock that 'felt like 2 black eyes & several broken bones' ft.com/content/27c6e3…
Bowie argues that out of this wreckage will come new roles for actuaries – 'from investment banking to climate change'.

In short, 'the corporate risk manager' is 'The sexy & exciting post for the future' ft.com/content/27c6e3…
Here is Bowie in @thetimes in 2009 talking about his ambition for every chief risk officer to be an actuary – as well as actuaries being 'very, very diffident people' thetimes.co.uk/article/the-wo…
In August 2009, an Observer article titled "Propping up final salary schemes 'will create poverty'" made waves – & was based on statements by Ronnie Bowie. theguardian.com/business/2009/…
Bowie, in 2010 @FT interview, argues that because of how schemes are measured, there's an 'inexorable trend' towards more & more short-termism – a 'reluctance to take on risk' probably to detriment of everybody

▶️ Bye bye final salary pensions
ft.com/video/032f7014… (1.45)
Ronnie Bowie is also Chair of Court at University of Dundee dundee.ac.uk/governance/gov… & a member of the Pensions Sub Group dundee.ac.uk/media/dundeewe… (p. 336) cc @DundeeUCU Pensions Sub-Group members (taken from doc linked to in tweet)
In Sept 2017 Bowie, as Chair of Court, updated the Court on the meeting of the Pensions Sub-Group – stressing need for 'intergenerational fairness' dundee.ac.uk/media/dundeewe… Pensions Sub-Group report from doc linked to in the tweet
As we've seen, the phrase 'intergenerational fairness' plays a complex role in the #USS pensions dispute – not least in relation to how it has been figured in UUK documents (see )
I'm threading in @etymologic's reminder that Dundee wanted less risk in Q3 of Sept 2017 UUK survey
OK, I'm moving on to Sally Bridgeland, who describes herself on LinkedIn as 'Investment consultant, actuary & former CEO of the BP Pension Fund now enjoying a portfolio of advisory and commercial, professional and NFP non-executive appointments' linkedin.com/in/sally-bridg…
Bridgeland's 2016–17 Master Actuary CV notes that while Chief Executive Officer of BP Pension Trustees 'she devised, negotiated and implemented a new funding and investment strategy for the £18bn fund to reflect the trustees’ changing perspective on risk' actuariescompany.co.uk/wp-content/upl…
You can read a 2011 interview with Bridgeland, while she was CEO, BP Pension Trustees, here portfolio-institutional.co.uk/interviews/in-…
Bridgeland also had 20 years with Aon Hewitt (various consulting & business roles up till 2007) actuariescompany.co.uk/wp-content/upl… Before joining BP, Sally spent 20 years with Aon Hewitt (then Bacon & Woodrow & Hewitt Associates) working both as a pensions consultant and in the investment practice ...section on Aon Hewitt from Sally Bridgeland's LinkedIn page (linked to in tweet)
And then I found Bridgeland's 2005 paper (J. Asset Management) on global competition run by *** #USS & Hewitt Bacon & Woodrow (later became Aon) *** in 2003 to encourage investment approaches that were 'genuinely long term & genuinely responsible' link.springer.com/article/10.105… Screen shot of title page of article by Bridgeland linked to in tweet
[I've now gone down rabbit hole exploring what was happening w #USS & Hewitt & pensions & risk & UUK in early yrs of 21st century ...

Wondering if I'm going to have to shift my research interests 90 degrees & abandon my tracking down of daydreams for ... this ... new ... life]
Back up out of the rabbit hole of what #USS was doing in 2003–2004 (subject of another future thread, I hope) since this thread is about the UUK nominees for JEP.

Back to Sally Bridgeland on the early stages of de-risking the BP pension fund (2014) ft.com/content/449d00… Screen shot from the FT article linked to in tweet
And Bridgeland in 2016 on de-risking in the aftermath of quantitative easing, & the Deepwater Horizon BP oil disaster (2010) theactuary.com/features/2016/… screen shot from article linked to in tweet (subsection:
In 2015, Bridgeland spoke at the Allianz-Oxford Pensions Conference, hosted by Gordon Clark, on "Beyond the mid-life crisis: Challenges for plan sponsors & trustees in the UK as DB pension funds mature" geog.ox.ac.uk/events/151001/…
Particularly interesting is Bridgeland's role in 300 Club: investment professionals 'who have joined together to respond to an urgent need to raise uncomfortable & fundamental questions' about 'foundations of the investment industry & investing' the300club.org/members/
Bridgeland is co-author (with Amin Rajan) of 300 Club's 'Governance practices:
Bridging the gap between rhetoric & reality' (2016) the300club.org/wp-content/upl… screen shot of first page of document linked to in the text
Bridgeland & Rajan argue there's a 'yawning gap between the rhetoric of the governance improvements of recent years & their reality ...'

'As the funding ratios have been hit by falling discount rates, a culture of micro management has been evident'
Bridgeland & Rajan's paper focuses on governance – and particularly on the argument that pension fund trustees need to make a 'behavioural shift' the300club.org/wp-content/upl… Section 6 'Breaking Free' of document linked to in the text
Bridgeland & Rajan's conclusion (6 Steps Along the Way Forward) gives, I contend, a good indication of how Bridgeland will approach her role on the UUK–UCU JEP the300club.org/wp-content/upl… Section 'Six steps along the way' from the document linked to in the tweet
Bridgeland will have known USS intimately during the USS–Hewitt (Aon) competition in 2003 on ‘As if the Long Term Really Did Matter’. I'm even more intrigued, now, about how relationships between JEP members, #USS trustees #USS executive, & #UUK will play out
Finally, to Chris Curry, director of Pensions Policy Institute pensionspolicyinstitute.org.uk/about/people-i… Screen shot of website -- showing Chris Curry
Curry is one of the authors of the 2010 Pensions Policy Institute report, funded by Nuffield Foundation 'The Future of the Public Sector Pensions' pensionspolicyinstitute.org.uk/publications/r… Screen shot of page linked to in tweet
In 2013, Curry presented ‘Implications of the government’s reforms to public sector
pensions’ in workshop @Dennis_Leech organised on "Rethinking
the Economics of Pensions: Is there a crisis of pensions or a crisis of pensions governance & regulation?" google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j… Screen shot of workshop described in tweetDescription of conference linked to in tweet
Curry was a witness during the Pension Schemes Bill (Session 2014–15, 23 Oct 2014); see publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cm… for contributions as regards various types of pension schemes, including CDC
Curry contributed to '#USS Investment Builder: A summary of member research' (May 2016), which discussed design of new Investment Builder section of the scheme google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j… screen shot of cover of doc linked to in tweetSection by Chris Curry from the document (from section 'Understanding USS members')
Curry presented 'The future security of defined benefit pensions' in June 2017. You can find the slides and the presentation here: bham.cloud.panopto.eu/Panopto/Pages/… One of the slides within the presentation linked to in the tweet
The Pensions Policy Institute (PPI) (of which Curry is Director) submitted to the DWP call for evidence on 'Defined benefit pension schemes: security & sustainability' google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j… Screen shot of first page of submission linked to in tweet
The PPI submission includes a section on increasing level of scrutiny on scheme governance (see also Bridgeland's interests in governance, mentioned earlier in thread) google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j… Screen shot from report linked to in tweet -- on scheme governance
In December 2017, Curry spoke at event (along with David Pitt-Watson & Kevin Wesbroom [Aon]) organised by CSFI [Ctr for Study of Financial Innovation] "Defined ambition: Is it time for collective defined contribution schemes in the UK?" csfi.org/20171219-defin…
OK, that's enough from me for now on the UUK nominees. Over at @USSbriefs, you'll find our thread on the 3 UCU nominees for the JEP
That's my 'remain[ing] vigilant' 👀 over for the day (see UCU
Higher Education Branch Action Note, 23 May 2018 ucu.org.uk/circ/pdf/UCUBA…)

But I'm newly gripped by what #USS was doing in 2003–2004. More on that soon. #USSstrike 8. UCU to remain vigilant. The strike ballot has remained live & members will be re-balloted if action is needed later in the year.

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More from @felicitycallard

Oct 2, 2018
Given importance of HE sector "there may be a case for future governments to consider alternative options" (incl "state-backed guarantee" or "measures enabling more risk-taking"). Powerful piece from @JMariathasan on #USS DB debate post-#JEP ipe.com/analysis/blogs… #USSstrike 1/
Article argues that central problem lies in regulatory changes that transformed management of a DB pension scheme into "a risk management problem, not an investment one" 2/
Read 4 tweets
Sep 22, 2018
Thank you to @EricRoyalLybeck & all the other organisers in Exeter, as well as @ExeterUCU: Volunteer University Revisited was such a magical day. Gathering all of our energies for the months & years to come #YesVolUniCan 1/
Particularly magical to meet some people in the flesh for the first time -- incl. @thetroutpouts @lizmorrish @TheGraceK @sstroschein2 Mike Finn, Alison Wood, @ProfAlastair @ms_rhian @NoisyBits 2/
So many ideas for ways forward. So many kinds of expertise being bought to bear on what now, how, for universities as a community. Also so many testifying to violence, intimidation, threats to academic freedom – & of particular subjects being of course more exposed 3/3
Read 4 tweets
Sep 16, 2018
There's a bonanza of new FOI responses that give us a much better sense of the range of university responses to #UUK #USS consultations from Oct 2016 and Feb/March 2017. Picking through them it's fascinating to see which universities challenged the direction of travel 1/
e.g. Aberdeen: "Aon ... & UCU have indicated that it may be advantageous to consider other models. We are interested in the Trustees views as to whether there are alternative models that could result in a more considered outcome" whatdotheyknow.com/request/508696… cc @aberdeen_ucu 2/
e.g. LSE: "We note that the latest benefit changes were implemented less than 12 months ago. The School’s view is that it is too soon for further changes to be made." whatdotheyknow.com/request/509128… 3/
Read 6 tweets
Sep 16, 2018
So with the publication of the #JEP, the issue of UUK consultations with employer institutions is back big time. Both the famous Sept 2017 survey – and now the possibility, if JEP recommendations are taken up, of UUK reassessing employers' appetite for risk.

I'm worried. 1/
#JEP has emphasised the problems with how UUK framed the questions. What's really obvious if you look back Sept survey is that all the focus is on risk and on a *reduction to benefits*. And NOT on the potential to increase contributions. Or on amending the technical provisions 2/
You can see the structure of the questions here, in Nottingham's response (one of the institutions that wanted less risk): whatdotheyknow.com/request/440685… 3/
Read 18 tweets
Sep 15, 2018
2. #JEP has a lot to say about Test 1. Its sentence 'The view of the Panel is that Test 1 is not well understood outside of USS' is ... well ... certainly marvellously diplomatic.

Cf. and 6/
3. #JEP's discussion of #USS's & #UUK's 'differing perspectives' on the shift from Sept to Nov valuation shows just how murky the deliberations that resulted in this shift still are.

This remains a big issue, given #JEP proposal to reassess employers' atttude to risk (p. 45) 7/ Extract from p. 45 of JEP report
4. #JEP agrees w many of us that UUK's 'framing' of questions around risk in their consultations has serious consequences.

How can we be confident that any future assessment of employers' risk appetite by UUK shows an improvement in their use of social scientific methods? 🧐 8/
Read 13 tweets
Sep 15, 2018
After a few weeks away from Twitter, I'm back to think – alongside many others – about content & rhetoric of the #JEP.

And abt what we at @USSbriefs have been doing all summer w @OpenUPP2018 to encourage deliberations over #USS valuation to take place in public #USSstrike 1/
Many (incl. @NJSHardy @gailfdavies @DrJoGrady @etymologic @MikeOtsuka) have already provided cogent analyses of the #JEP report & its implications. So here I'll just going to pick out some of what has struck me most forcefully on a first read. #USSstrike 2/
1. There's a judicious use of rhetoric – particularly around 'confidence', '(mis)understanding' & 'communication'. This cleaves closely to that used by #UUK & Bill Galvin – whether that is deliberately so as to increase likelihood of acceptance by those parties, you can decide 3/
Read 5 tweets

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