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I am co-CEO of Redington, we advise 10 of the top 25 pension funds in the UK and we are building Redington into a global force in the pensions industry. Our objective is to ensure the next generation can continue to be better off than the last.

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© Robert Gardner 2013
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10th of November, 2013

Do pension funds need a ‘Cox’ to steer the boat and coordinate the power and rhythm of the rowers.


Dawn hasn’t broken, the morning is dark. We climb into the boat. The air is cold, our all-in-one lycras are proving too thin, and the wind is biting at our backs. This is a time when we all question our motives — are we stupid, misguided or mad? What are we doing here, when we could be in bed?

We take up our blades, shiver, and settle into our familiar seats. A contagious nod amongst the crew members signals the time, and our focus shifts to the cox*.

Attention!” – Her clear, loud voice signals the start –  Our postures correct, head and shoulders lift, and legs awaken.
Go!” – She is confident, encouraging, believing in us; she knows we can pull through – we grip our blades firmly and drive our seats up the slide. As one, we face this challenge; as one, we row to win.

A black cloud lingers over the river, but the water sits serene. Our blades enter the water in unison,transferring the energy from our drive into the catch. We finish the stroke, sweeping our blades through the water, leaving behind eight puddles (vestiges of our mighty effort) in the wake. Our breaths deepen and chests heave; our boat pulls into speed. We unite, in effort, in desire for the goal, and in what we know how to do.
“In three, push for ten!”  The cox pre-empts a lull; her voice charges the minds of us all. Each of us welcomes the pain of our legs, acknowledges aching of lungs; this is a requirement, a cost and a gain, that drives us towards our goal. We’re all in this together, we committed to this; we can’t remember why. In the heat of the boat, the sweat of this race, we push forward without hesitation or lapse. Each of our ambitions rests on the others, we rely on each other’s strength. We look to our cox for guidance and help, but this race is our own to beat.And victory is sweet! It comes to the relentless, the driven and strong. Our boat pulls into the finish line. We are victorious, intoxicated, united in glory; no feeling compares to this. The smiles of the rowers hide pain at the effort, but none of it matters anymore. Every breath, every doubt, every ache, every sacrifice, is worth this euphoria, this elation of success.
At Redington, we expound the importance of goals. The metaphors we often use, therefore, are ones relating to travel, journeys and sports. The reason is that, to us, no road can be successful unless it’s pointed towards a goal. Seneca’s assertion that “one must know the port to which one sails for any wind to be favourable” resonates within our firm and among our clients. We drive ourselves – within Redington – to set goals for ourselves that we can unite as a team to reach; and our unique talent is helping clients to set those goals too, and to row with them, side by side, towards those goals.Success, in any form, can’t emerge without a clear idea of the goal. No crew can finish the race without knowing what race they are rowing and where the finish line is. No pension fund can reach full funding without understanding the route and having an idea of what the end looks like.
At Redington we work with our clients to help determining the length of their race, the location of the finish line, and then to form a strategy for reaching it. Then, we band together and row with them. We are the voice of the cox, encouraging them, and, when needed, we sit in the boat with them to take the blades when times are hard. We let them know when the boat slows down, and we help push it back on track.We encourage all the members of our Redington Superteam to drive themselves like athletes: no excellence was achieved by accident, nothing outstanding resulted from a half-hearted attempt. Whether we are former sports people or not, to achieve great things we must understand the power of collective goals, accountability and responsibility to our team members, and the power of perseverance and “grit”.
*In a rowing crew, the cox is the member who sits in the stern facing the bow, steers the boat, and coordinates the power and rhythm of the rowers. Coxswains are traditionally thrown into the water after a regatta win – see St-Annes Boat Club celebrating bumps in Summer VIIIs 
 
p.s. if our clients reach their goals and objectives then they can throw us in the river too.
 
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