On Christmas day last year after a sumptuous dinner and copious amounts of alcohol, I announced to those members of my family present that I needed a new challenge. Which is why, last week, I found myself doing the Yorkshire 3 Peaks challenge in aid of the British Heart Foundation.
It was a challenge, but a fantastic day and I got to meet and chat to lots of very nice people also doing their bit. However, on the steeper climbs conversation tended to be subdued as the less fit amongst us gasped for breath.
On these more challenging sections the mind does tend to wonder. Maybe it was the ‘thin atmosphere’ but at one stage I started to think about the similarities between completing the 3 peaks challenge and securing the benefits of a legacy Defined Benefit scheme – yep, it’s strange what goes through your mind.
So what were these similarities?
Well I started the day oblivious of the challenges that lay ahead – no doubt the trustees of many final salary schemes felt similarly unconcerned back in the good old days in the midst of the 80’s bull market when final salary benefits seemed eminently affordable.
The walk had both difficult and easier sections. After a while I tended to make the most of the easier sections to eat, drink and put on compeed patches to prevent the blisters I felt were coming! This was of course prudent action to take as I knew there would be more difficult challenges ahead. Again, I felt that these actions are not that dissimilar to what prudent trustees do during the better times – taking actions that will benefit their scheme in more challenging times. Actions such as; reducing the scheme risk and, if possible, securing benefits.
But I guess the aspect that really made me think about the similarities was how well run the event was. Of course, the 3 peaks challenge is an annual event and the British Heart Foundation has been doing it for many years. This experience is invaluable in getting everyone – including many ‘part time’ walkers like me - safely around a challenging course. There was information, guidance, advice, encouragement and experts on hand to help out if things went wrong.
In this respect, the event organisers were very like a good professional trustee – One who has the experience of the challenges schemes face, has seen and helped his clients avoid the many pitfalls, is a reassuring presence as they navigate the challenges and helps their clients to take the most efficient rout to the ultimate goal.
Yes, the organisers were very much like a good professional trustee. Very much like those I work with at PTL.
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