Joining PTL almost 6 years ago seemed like a big decision at the time. I had always worked for big organisations and in many cases large global firms.
Also, I had spent the previous 25 years selling ‘solutions’. What would I sell at PTL? They were the advised, not the advisers. All I had to promote were the people and their skills and expertise – how on earth would I do that?
That aside, the reasons for joining PTL were compelling. It was around that time that schemes were increasingly appointing professional trustees and, from what I could see, PTL were very professional. PTL were also innovative, constantly developing new ideas and moving into new areas. I certainly wouldn’t get into a rut.
And that’s pretty much how things turned out. The first surprise – and I have to be honest, it was a surprise was how PTL approached the role of being the independent trustee. Prior to joining, my view of independent trustees was that they were dogmatic, unyielding and – for the employer at least – difficult to work with. PTL, however, were pragmatic and they encouraged all parties to work together collaboratively.
Not surprisingly this approach was an attractive proposition to many schemes and the employers sponsoring them – and this led to significant success on the new business front. Although this was mainly in providing professional trustee services to (mainly) legacy DB schemes – which remains the mainstay of PTL’s business – there were many new areas that I got involved in. These have included pitching for (and winning) trustee appointments on many of the DC master trusts in the market, and being appointed to most of the Independent Governance Committees set up by the major DC providers. It has also included running group life master trusts and healthcare trusts, and providing governance for the rapidly growing funeral plan market, areas where PTL is once again the market leader.
And most recently, we have rolled out PTL’s Clear Funds solution for asset managers: providing an independent assessment of the value for money of transaction costs in the funds in which they are invested.
And how did I “sell” PTL – well, that turned out to be the easy bit. Focusing my efforts largely on other professional firms, it was simply a matter of introducing the PTL client directors to the consultants, lawyers and other advisers. Building relationships does require a lot of ‘legwork’ but unlike in my previous roles, I did seem to be ‘pushing at an open door’. Pensions have become complex and most lay trustee boards need professional help. And luckily for me, I had a lot of talented colleagues who soon convinced the advisers – and their clients – that they could help them to better manage their pension schemes.
So with such a buoyant sector, why am I choosing now to retire now? Well it’s not – as many have suspected – the advent of GDPR! And it’s not that I dislike the job – quite the contrary, in fact. However, there is an old adage to “quit while you’re ahead”, and I suppose this is part of it. It has been great working for PTL and, for the most part, it has been fun. But there really is more to life than work and trying to squeeze leisure activities around it.
So, while I am still relatively fit and hopefully have the finances to support it, I’m going to doing all the things that so far I haven’t had time to do.
Les will certainly be missed by everyone at PTL, and we wish him all the very best. We are also very pleased to welcome Nicola Parnham to the team - allow her to introduce herself by clicking here.