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LSBF Great Minds: Rising life expectancy a financial challenge for pensions, believes Senior Partner of Sackers

In an interview with London School of Business and Finance (LSBF), Ian Pittaway, Senior Partner of Sacker & Partners LLP, said he believes that the pensions sector will face new challenges because of a continually rising life expectancy.

Speaking with Nadim Choudhury, LSBF’s Head of Career Services & Employability at as part of the LSBF Great Minds series, Mr Pittaway discussed the issues that will affect the pensions sector in the near future.

“Everybody is living longer because of health advances and gains, but pension schemes have to pay these pensions for that person’s life, and the longer they live the more expensive it gets. It might be good in one respect but financially it’s a challenge,” he said.

“Some employers have decided that because ‘final salary schemes’ are so expensive, they’re moving to other types of schemes which are less generous, so that’s a big challenge. There’ll be a golden generation of people who have retired in the last 10 or 20 years, but that might not be the case for the future,” he added.

Ian Pittaway joined Sackers, a specialist pensions law firm in the City of London, in 1996. He has also been chairman and secretary of their main trade body, the Association of Pension Lawyers. Alongside this, he was elected in the last year as chair of the Association of Professional Pension Trustees, and has recently been appointed as the chair of the Independent Governance Committee of Aegon.

Sackers have a client roster of more than 500 occupational pension schemes, and offer commercial, pragmatic advice on all manners of pension issues. They are consistently ranked in the top tier for pensions by the leading UK legal directories.

Mr Pittaway believes the values that Sackers employees share creates an engaging work atmosphere. He said: “We have a very distinct culture. We’re different to the great big firms- there’s only 100 of us. What marks out the firm is our respect for individuals, our respect for the clients and our collegiate atmosphere.

“We have a tiny turnover of staff because our values are right. We take newly qualified solicitors and when we recruit them we expect them to stay [with Sackers] for the rest of their career. There are lots of appraisals, mentoring and nurturing. We want them to come through and succeed and eventually be partners.”

Offering some advice for students and graduates that might be interested in entering the legal and pension sector, Mr Pittaway said: “Don’t be daunted by the challenges. I come from a council estate in East London and I just went with my potential.

“My advice is to just go for it, have confidence in your own ability. Do the research, understand what you’re getting into and don’t let people put you off. If you believe you’ve got that ability or that talent, go for it. Trust your judgement, the more you put in, the more you’ll get out,” he added.

LSBF Great Minds Series

As well as offering programmes dedicated to fostering leadership skills, London School of Business and Finance (LSBF) also endeavours to provide students with insight and inspiration through a number of innovative resources. One of these initiatives is the LSBF Great Minds Series: a collection of video interviews with leading business and political leaders promoting debate on education, employability, entrepreneurship and the economy.

The video series started in 2011 with a conversation with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, followed by an interview with former Education Secretary Lord Kenneth Baker. In 2012, entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, founder and chairman of the Virgin Group said that universities worldwide should become hubs to boost entrepreneurship and inspire self-starters to develop their own businesses. In 2014, LSBF spoke to Will Butler-Adams from Brompton Bicycle, Guy Hayward-Cole from Nomura Bank International, with former British Prime Minister Sir John Major, entrepreneur and investor Deborah Meaden, Google UK sales director Kevin Mathers and BBC Worldwide CEO Tim Davie.

In 2015, LSBF hosted interviews with Andrew Miller, CEO of Guardian Media Group; Jill McDonald, CEO of McDonald's UK; Kevin Costello, CEO of Haymarket Group; Amy McPherson, CEO of Marriott Hotels Europe; veteran BAFTA-winning broadcaster Jon Snow; live chats with Kevin Ellis, Managing Partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers; Guy Hands, Founder of Terra Firma and many others.

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