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I founded and co-founded a couple of companies: Redington and mallowstreet; now I have launched a global initiative, Partnership for Change, which is working to improve healthcare, long term care, pensions & savings and technology for a rapidly ageing population. I write about issues of the day that touch me and make me think. Mostly about how to make things better.

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Results Day!

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Right about now, 300,000 teenagers are getting their heads around their A-Level results. Unbridled Joy and Utter Despair abound across the land. It has never been more difficult to get a place at Uni; those who had planned to take a year off are going now to beat the fees hike next year, and there are far more applicants than places.

Oh, and yesterday, some Universities helpfully said they won’t accept re-sits next year. Either you get your A Level grades today or forget it and find a job. Stress levels this morning are through the roof for the FB children.

Some of the students deliriously elated this morning did not deserve to get the grades they just got. They got lucky. They didn’t study much of the syllabus, chatted for hours on FB, did minimal work BUT, on the day, their questions came up. Like winning the lottery, the question on Othello happened to be on the exact text they looked at the night before. Bingo! It’s not fair but they are in and others are not.

To be sure of getting your Uni grades you have to put in the time and effort, make a study schedule, take copious lecture notes, revise. In short, you need a gameplan.

Or you can fly by the seat of your Abercrombie boxers and get lucky

Running a pension plan is similar. It’s possible to get the diversified asset mix just right, to sell out of equities just before the crash and to have a sponsor who happens to have enough cash to see you right.

But to be SURE of being fully funded, to be certain of paying all the benefits, to sleep well at night, you have to establish your risk budget, calculate your required rate of return, pick the right asset classes and hedge the right risks.

Otherwise, you’re reclining in the bosom of Lady Luck. Who, judging from the currently trending #A Level tweets, only does her job some of the time.

 

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