How have you been a change agent at
your organization? What have you done
that you’re particularly proud of?
I joined Nationwide in 2013 to build and lead
the Pension Risk/Finance function and have
recently taken on an expanded role covering
broader capital and modelling (including
modelling the Group’s operational risk and
some credit risk exposures). Throughout my
career, I have always aimed to build teams
that “get stuff done” (in the right way), make
a difference, and “think team.” I get a lot
of pleasure from building teams and capabilities to solve/simplify business problems,
whilst empowering individuals to develop
personally and professionally. A particular
highlight was one of my direct reports securing an amazing career opportunity reporting directly to our CEO.
What is the asset class or investment
that keeps you up at night, and why?
Movements in equities and long-term interest rates can be very unpredictable and are
big risks to defined benefit pension funds.
They expose you to a wide range of unpredictable macro risks—including economic,
geopolitical, and central bank policy. That
said, these risks apply to many asset classes,
so it is important to develop a robust risk/
reward decision framework, whilst keeping
focus on your ultimate goal(s).
What methodologies have you adopted
within your institution?
I built Nationwide’s first-ever Pension Risk
Framework and integrated pension analysis,
insight, and stress testing into the business.
This ultimately helps Nationwide and the
pension trustees to meet their obligations
and anticipate any strategic management
actions required. More recently, I’ve been
leading and merging Nationwide’s pension
risk and capital modelling teams to create
synergies (essentially to make them “more
than the sum of their parts”) and thus add
further value to the business.
Where do you fall in the passive vs.
I’m at the passive end of the spectrum
because the maths works against active management. On average, an index/benchmark
will outperform an active manager. Another
way to think about it is, over the long-term,
active managers who take “brave bets” relative to the benchmark and outperform will
be offset by those that underperform… Are
you sure you can consistently pick the winners? However, active management of “real
assets” makes a lot of sense to me.
What changes would you like to see the
institutional investing community make
in 10 years?
Closer alignment of interests between asset
owners and asset managers.
Who is a manager you don’t currently
work with whose brain you’d like to pick?
John Maynard Keynes if he was still alive…
deep down I’m a wannabe economist.
Ideally, where would that meeting take
Fifteen in Old Street, London. A non-profit
restaurant supporting a great cause (helping
disadvantaged adults to build careers in hos-
Head of Pension Risk & Capital Modelling ,
Nationwide Building Society (Wiltshire, UK) 34
Built Santander UK and Nationwide Building Society’s
pension risk and reporting frameworks...Passion for
developing talent and future leaders.
pitality). Fifteen is managed by Jamie Oliver
and I grew up near Essex, not far from Jamie.
What software investment tool helps
I’m quite reliant on Excel but always open to
What would improve the relationship
between you and managers?
Transparency of fees and objective evidencing of value for money.
Why did you choose your current path?
I started my career in human resources in a
college and then decided to go for the rock
‘n roll lifestyle associated with becoming an
actuary. Since qualifying, I have worked
in financial services and enjoy the variety, solving risk/investment problems and