It was the beginning of July, the Sun was shining and spirits were high. It can mean only one thing: Manchester for the CLASS AGM (hosted by Greater Manchester Pension Fund). We at Aquila Heywood made a conscious decision to refine things a little this year, with a programme built around data and innovation. It sounds simple, but a good deal of time and effort was put into what was presented on the day. The feedback that I received from a number of repeat attendees was impressive.
'Super location, very easy to get to and great hotel. I liked the more informal dinner.'
'The venue was very handy for commuting, lovely clean facilities and helpful staff.'
'I thought [the sessions] were very well run and all very topical.'
'I thought the police and fire section was excellent!!!!'
'I always thought this conference to be for those that work closely with Altair, that is, report running, table amending and so on. As a Governance and Regulations Manager, I would definitely recommend this to other Governance and Regulations managers and next year I will be inviting members of my team along.'
'Data Insights and Innovation' was the theme of the event, and it really struck a chord. From innovations such as the Pensions Dashboard (for which Aquila Heywood has been a development partner), through to slightly less exciting, but no less important, General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), there was something for everyone. What impressed me, about all of the talks I saw, was the fact they all answered the all-important 'So what?' question. This was not just a theory, but emphasis was placed on explaining the impact, and where appropriate, necessary actions.
One of the highlights of the event was the keynote address by Baroness Altmann CBE. It was a great to hear from someone with such wealth of knowledge and insight. From the current political landscape, to the future of pensions legislation, she made sure that everyone left the (very packed) conference room better informed than when they went in. I was pleased to see that member engagement, something that is so dear to my heart that I joined Aquila Heywood to focus on it, was highlighted as so important. To paraphrase, we are entering exciting times with opportunities to explain, engage and enthuse about pensions. I left the room energised about the prospect of being able to make a real difference to the millions of pension scheme members who are 'on auto-pilot' and need some help to make plans for their retirement.
I learned a lot over the two days, including the fact that LGPS is the fifth-largest pension scheme in the world! I knew it was large, but I didn't appreciate just how large! But my biggest learns came from spending time with customers to understand their strategic priorities better and hear their great ideas to improve further. Thank you to everyone that took the time to speak with me, and to all of the speakers, sponsors and attendees. It's thanks to all of you that the event was the success it was.