Apparently I should start drinking milk with powdered aspirin if I want to live longer. I’m not sure how useful this is for me. Yesterday was the first day of my fifties but if the sixth decade goes on like it started there’s no way I’ll make it to the end.
As days in my life as RSA chief executive go I think yesterday could reasonably be described as ‘full-on’. The morning saw the launch of our Tomorrow's Investor project report. It attracted huge media interest, including an item on the Today programme, BBC News, front page coverage in the Daily Telegraph plus extensive articles in other broadsheets and other expert publications. As well as this fantastic coverage, the main message of the report - that relatively minor changes to our regulatory framework could boost pension returns by 40 percent - seems to have really struck a chord, with a lot of follow-up from policy makers, universities and think tanks.
When David Pitt Watson – the report’s author (and Fellow) – spoke at yesterday’s launch he started by reminding the audience that the whole project began with a focus group made up largely of RSA Fellows. It was their horrified reaction to being told the impact that fees have on their private pensions (costing up to 50% of the money saved over the full life of the pension) which confirmed that this was something we should pursue. I have real hope that our recommendations will in time lead to a shift in Government policy.
Then yesterday evening we had our AGM.
I should start with a big ‘thank you’ to all those Fellows who turned out in the bitter cold (I know many of you travelled from far afield) and to everyone who took part by voting. Discussions have been raging (quite literally at times!) over the last few weeks on some of the issues on the agenda but there was virtually unanimous backing for a Fellow’s proposal to set up a Governance Review Panel and we will be putting the wheels in motion on this as soon as possible. I think we should set ourselves the ambition not just of finding a way forward on the issue of Trustee composition but of creating a model governance structure, ranging from the Board to regional structures and Fellows’ rights.
As any past Board Chair or Chief Executive of the RSA will confirm, the issue of relations between the centre, the regions and Fellows themselves has often been problematic. With more Fellow activity now than ever before, and a real enthusiasm among staff and Trustees to put Fellows at the heart of the Society, we have a chance to create a modern, open, flexible form of governance which provides the best possible platform for the RSA to be a powerful force for good and acts as a model for other membership organisations facing similar issues.
We shouldn’t underestimate how far our societies have pulled apart. Yet there is hope for renewal, says Anthony Painter. The question is not whether we come together – but how.