Speaking, Reform and why I’m looking forward to the world of payroll.

Whilst I enjoy much of what I do one of the things which gives me a huge amount of satisfaction is speaking in front of an audience.

The interesting thing is that, whilst I’m far from perfect and find myself trying to improve every time I do it, people seem to listen with respect, provide positive feedback (with the odd, sometimes scathing exception – I suppose I can’t please them all!) and ask plenty of questions.

So, today I want to share two things.

Firstly I’m speaking at an upcoming event talking about a subject I’ve got a relative level of expertise in…

Auto Enrolment.

At the upcoming Payroll World’s Client Payroll Conference, held at the Hotel Russell in London I’ll be part of a panel talking about how payroll providers (and employers) can choose the right auto enrolment provider for their business.

The team at Payroll world have got a number of the leading auto enrolment experts together all I’m sure with their own interesting perspectives on their auto enrolment market. I’m sure I’ll learn a lot as well as hopefully sharing my expertise.

Therefore if you’re responsible for payroll either for your business or manage payroll for a number of employers it might be worth seeing if you can attend (you can find out a bit more here)

Secondly, I wanted to share a video from the last time I spoke at an event, to a room full of financial planners on the potential positives and negatives of the upcoming pension reforms…

Hopefully you’ve found the video useful and if Payroll World is your kinda thing and you intend to go….feel free to say hello if you see me there!



“Ready, Steady, Banana” – The benefit of silliness

It feels a bit strange…

By day I find myself doing some exciting, fun, but equally serious stuff.


Talking about my recently written white paper (on the subject of Auto Enrolment if you’re interested taking a look).

Helping people who have worked hard all their lives make important decisions about their financial futures.


Consulting with employers, and the professionals they work with, to ensure that these firms are ready for changes in pension law.

By night (and sometimes on weekends) I play “Ready Steady Banana”

Now you might not have heard of this particular game (I think it might be unique to our house actually).

It involves Sophie, my two year old, and always starts at one end of our living room with Sophie saying “Go on Daddy, let’s play race cars!”

Sophie’s usually the race car (although I have been known to partake in this particular role on occasion!) and I’m the ‘starter’.

So, as all good starters do I prime the race….



(long pause)


At that point (and every single time) Sophie starts to run!

“No” I say with a smile on my face “I didn’t say Go…I said Bananas!”

At that point Sophie usually giggles, stops running and trudges back to the start line.

This continues, with various different words (like Sandwich or Car or Hello) substituted for “Go” until I finally decide to finish with “go” and Sophie starts running up and down.

The weird thing is that although you might expect a two year old to get immense pleasure from such a simple, silly and funny game…..I love it as much as Sophie!

I’m not sure whether it’s just seeing Sophie giggle, whether I just like the simplicity of the game or whether although I’m lucky enough to have an occupation where I get to meet great people, share ideas and effectively think, talk and write for a living it still helps to, on occasion…

SONY DSC…to spend some time with my girls, just being a little silly.

The more I think about it…and there are plenty of reasons I do what I do…my girls are a big part of my “Why”.

I want to be a role model to both Charlotte and Sophie.

I want to prove to them that, with big enough goals and aspirations, hard work and the right attitudes, you might just achieve enough you can be proud of.

However I also want them they understand that whilst hard work, having ‘big dreams’, and trying to do stuff that matters contributes to a rounded and satisfying life, it means very little if you don’t spend enough time with the ones you love.

Even if that means just running around in the living room.

Being Silly.

Playing “Ready, Steady, Banana”

What do you think?

Deloreans, top notch audiences and why I’m proud to say “I’ve been to Leeds!”

I get to travel quite a lot.

For Fun, For Family and increasingly for work.

Although the work travel isn’t as much fun (I miss the kids desperately when I’m away) it’s  usually for something which gives me the opportunity to speak to a bunch of different people about a subject I know a little bit about.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to do this in Leeds.

With my diary pretty busy already my time is at a massive premium.

However I really enjoy sharing my experiences, telling stories and trying to share at least one thing which will help people with their businesses or lives.

It’s something I’m lucky enough get to do regularly…

However I was nervous about this one.

Firstly I was speaking alongside the pensions regulator, some high profile people from prominent pensions firms and a guy who obviously knew his technology chops!

Secondly I was the last one on (I suppose you could spin it and call it ‘headlining’ but also on the opposite scale you could have called it the graveyard shift, I’d be tempted to go for the latter!).

I didn’t mind going on last. However as I sat through the interesting presentations I realised something.

There was loads of interesting graphs, loads of information on all of there slides and some great demos of tools which were designed to help the business owners and advisers in the room.

The regulator managed to provide a whistle-stop tour of the regulation in record time going into massive amounts of depth and covering an incredible amount of information.


My presentation consisted of a picture of a “fish out of water”, a chess piece and the Delorean car from “Back to the future”….and no text!

Whilst this was intentional (I wanted to focus on the stories instead of the slides) and I was confident this approach worked for some audiences (I’d made a few similar presentations already) it was so different from some of the other presenters (especially the regulators) I thought I might have misjudged the audience!

and lastly (and I know this is irrational) I was presenting in Leeds.

I didn’t want the ladies and gents in the room, many of them with successful businesses and years more experience than me, to assume this fella from London was coming to tell them how to run an aspect of their business successfully.

I know from some of the work I do with people from across the UK that the types of businesses and the challenges they face do change depending on where in the country you are.

However there are “universal truths” which we’ve found that I wanted to share.

As well as the fact that anyone listening could take the good bits and ignore the bits they didn’t need!  

So, I was nervous. However those nerves were pretty unfounded.

The crowd in the room made it a fantastic experience. They were accommodating, curious and generous.

They clapped, asked loads of questions and were generally top notch!

If you attended the event….Thank you!

I can now say “Sophisticated! I’ve been to Leeds” (obscure comedy reference) and due to your generous welcome I can’t wait to get back up to your next of the woods again!

I mentioned at the start of this entry that one of the things I don’t like about travelling through work is not seeing my girls.

However sometimes the people I meet, the audiences I get to talk to and the welcome home (which this time involved some home made pizza and loads of cuddles) almost makes it worthwhile!

Launching on a Monday Morning and the mystery of meat in a can.

I’ve always quite liked Monday mornings.

Whilst at various stages of my career (and life) I haven’t always enjoyed my work as much as I am now I’ve never fully experienced that “Monday Morning Feeling”….I feel slightly less positive about Sunday nights and don’t even get me started on Wednesday Afternoons!

However next Monday (the 28th of October) is a Monday Morning that I’m very much looking forward to (even more than most).

You see over the last few months I’ve been working (together with a team of extremely smart and motivated individuals) on building a service designed to ensure that Financial Advisers and Planners have the support they need to guide employers large and small through the upcoming challenges of automatic enrolment (and the various other obligations employers now need to meet).

We’ve still got loads of work to do but luckily we’ve already have a high level of interest from both individual financial advisers, financial planners and planning / support businesses who are looking to discuss how we work together to help their clients.

Due to the nature of the market (every employer who employs more than 62 individuals will need to comply by July next year) we’ve had to move relatively quickly and actually this has seemed to work in our favour….decisions are being made, ownership is being taken and everyone involved in building our service seems to understand that to delay is to miss the opportunity.

You can find our more about the service (together with the other guys and girl who are working together to develop this) here…


as well as a recent article in the financial press confirming it’s launch here.

However I need you help….

If you have clients who are business owners or businesses let us know what you think of our service once it’s launched…

The first step I’d ask you to take is to sign up to our contacts list on the auto enrolment advisory group website.

I’m a lover of spam! But only of the “meat in a can” variety. The mass email’s about nothing in particular annoy me as much as they annoy you.

So I promise you won’t be receiving loads of irrelevant emails if you decide to sign on to our contacts list.

What you’ll get instead is a “sneak peak” into how our service might be able to help you together with an invite to an exclusive event (details to be confirmed) where we officially launch our new proposition.

So, have a look at the site. Feel free to ask questions (just don’t break anything!) and I look forward to inviting you to our launch event really soon…