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The aims of this website are:

(i) to set out proposals for a new approach to Defined Contribution pensions and to muster support for that approach; and

(ii) to demystify investing in ordinary shares and to make the world of investing accessible to people without specialised financial knowledge.

I have strong views on both.

Whether you agree or disagree with my views, I would really appreciate hearing from you. Write to me at colm@colmfagan.ie. I will get back to you as soon as possible.

1. PENSIONS



My views on pensions derive from my chequered employment history.

In 1967, aged 17, I joined Irish Life Assurance Company as an actuarial trainee. It was a permanent pensionable job, but the prospect of a 'defined benefit' pension of two-thirds of salary from age 65, which I would attain in November 2014, was not the top priority for this 17-year old. After finishing the actuarial exams, I moved job, then moved again, and again, and again, and again, eventually setting up my own business. Things worked out well in the end, but the promise of a generous pension of two-thirds of salary was a casualty along the way. As far as pensions were concerned, I was left to fend - and to fund - for myself.

Now past my 70th birthday, financial security in retirement is no longer a worry. I realise that I'm lucky though in having a solid background in finance that helped me navigate successfully the world of defined contribution ("DC") pensions. Most aren't so lucky.

The "pensions" tab of this site sets out how I am trying to apply the lessons from my own experience to help others achieve income security in retirement.

2. INVESTMENTS



My views on investment derive from an even earlier experience.

As a child, I was "encouraged" to learn the piano. From age 8, I cycled seven miles to the local town, Claremorris, on Saturdays for piano lessons. Occasionally, my father, a local Garda (policeman) asked me to bring home the Financial Times, there being no newsagent in our village, Knock. My father died when I was 9. When trying to sort out his affairs, no-one knew what to do with the few shares he had acquired from his years of reading the FT. I vowed that I would sometime learn this arcane subject.

I eventually did learn. I discovered that shares are not nearly as complicated as many finance professionals like to pretend. I believe that people who don't have a background in finance can make the same discovery. That is the aim of my series of articles titled "Diary of a Private Investor".

3. ABOUT ME



In 2008, I retired from my last full-time role, as Executive Chairman of Life Strategies, the actuarial consulting firm I had founded 15 years previously. The firm is now Milliman Ireland. I am delighted that it is still going strong.

After retiring from Life Strategies, I took up a number of roles as an Independent Non-Executive Director (INED) of financial institutions, chairing the Board of one life assurance company and chairing a number of risk and audit committees. I also chaired the Trustee boards of two pension schemes, one defined benefit and the other defined contribution. I have now retired from all but one of my non-executive roles. The remaining directorship is with Hawthorn Life, a life assurance company in the Berkshire Hathaway Group. I chair its Audit Committee.

Prior to forming Life Strategies in 1993, I had a chequered employment career. My first job was with Irish Life Assurance, which I joined as an actuarial student from secondary school (I didn't get a primary degree until after I retired: in 2013 I completed a BA degree with the Open University, studying Maths and English).

I left Irish Life after 13 years for a brief career as a pension consultant, but soon returned to the life assurance fold, first as Assistant Actuary with New Ireland Assurance, and then Bank of Ireland Group, which I joined in 1986 to help the bank break into the life assurance business. In the following year,1987, the bank's efforts were successful and the new life assurance company, Lifetime Assurance, started business. I became its Finance Director and Chief Actuary.

I left Bank of Ireland Group in 1993 to set up a new actuarial consultancy specialising in life assurance, which I called Life Strategies. That made me unique: there were no other life consulting actuaries in Ireland at that time.

My timing was fortuitous. Dublin's International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) become an attractive base for life assurance companies about the same time as I embarked on a career as a consulting actuary, and I was able to ride the wave. In my fifteen years with Life Strategies, the firm acted as midwife at the birth of more than 30 new life assurance companies. We were particularly successful in attracting Italian financial institutions to establish life assurance subsidiaries in Ireland.

During my time with Life Strategies, I discharged the statutory role of Appointed Actuary under Irish and UK law for more than a dozen companies. I also served as With-Profits actuary in the UK and Independent Actuary appointed by the High Court in Ireland, charged with opining on transfers of life assurance portfolios.

In 2005, I was invited to serve as President of the Society of Actuaries in Ireland, a role I was honoured to discharge for the next two years.



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