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The aims of this website are:

(i) to set out proposals for a new approach to the introduction of auto-enrolled pensions in Ireland and to seek support for that approach; and

(ii) to demystify investing in ordinary shares in order 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, in part at least, 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' (DB) pension of two-thirds of salary from age 65 was not the top priority for this 17-year old. After finishing the actuarial exams, I moved job, then moved again, and again, many times, eventually setting up my own business. Things worked out well in the end, but the promise of a generous DB pension was a casualty along the way. As far as pensions were concerned, I had to fend - and to fund - for myself.

Now into my seventies, financial security is no longer a worry. I realise that I'm lucky though in having a solid background in finance that has 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 was 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 bought during his years of reading the FT. I vowed that I would sometime learn about this arcane subject.

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

After retiring, I took on a number of part-time roles as an Independent Non-Executive Director (INED). I chaired the Board of Standard Life International and the risk or audit committees of subsidiaries of Hannover Re, SEB, Barclays Bank and others, as well as chairing the Trustee boards of two pension schemes, one defined benefit, the other defined contribution. I have now retired from all but one of my non-executive roles. The one remaining directorship is with Hawthorn Life, a company in the Berkshire Hathaway Group. I chair its Audit Committee.

I started my career with Irish Life Assurance, which I joined straight from secondary school, qualifying as an actuary (FIA) through part-time study. A few years after qualifying, I left Irish Life for a brief career as a pension consultant but soon returned to the life assurance fold, first with New Ireland Assurance, then Bank of Ireland Group, which I joined in 1986 to help it break into the life assurance business, becoming Finance Director and Chief Actuary of its insurance subsidiary.

I left Bank of Ireland Group in 1993 to set up a new actuarial consultancy specialising in life assurance, Life Strategies. My timing was fortuitous. Dublin's International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) became an attractive base for life assurance companies about the same time and I was able to ride the wave. In my fifteen years with Life Strategies, the firm acted as midwife for 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.

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 asked 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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