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Your Autumn ’23 Pennant

Pennant is at the printers and will start dropping in inboxes and on doormats from Monday, 6 November.

Here, our Chief Executive gives a little insight into what’s inside.

The Autumn edition of Pennant is published as we approach Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday, a time when we all pause to remember the fallen.

Recent events in Israel and Gaza and the ongoing situation in Ukraine also serve as reminders of the consequences of conflict around the world. While this is not the publication to provide a running commentary on, or analysis of, the current global security situation, I am sure all our thoughts are with those affected by conflict today; it is people and families who suffer more than the nations or organisations that initiate or orchestrate conflict – as has been so vividly documented over recent weeks and months.

The centrality of people in maintaining UK operational capability was reiterated with the publication of the MOD Defence Command Paper ‘refresh’ in July, which itself was preceded by the publication of the much-anticipated Haythornthwaite Review into Armed Forces Incentivisation – the first major such review since the Bett Review of the 1990s. We provide an initial assessment at page 9 and will continue to engage with the MOD as they turn their attention towards the complex challenge of implementing the report’s recommendations.

We will, of course, remain true to our values throughout this process, represent your interests and continue to highlight the pension’s core purpose of sustaining operationally effective Armed Forces through a demonstrable and meaningful financial commitment to those who serve.

Meanwhile in the ‘business as usual’ space we are now in the AFPS 15 remedy (McCloud) implementation phase, which will continue for years to come. This has been hard yards, to say the least, and the compressed timelines through the public consultation period and planning for the implementation itself provided a thorough stress test of our business model.

I can report that we are ready to support those of you affected by the remedy through your decision making process; please understand there are thousands of people in a similar position and not everyone needs to decide right now. Please follow the guidance offered so we can continue to provide the best possible service to you.

Not surprisingly, the inflow to the Society and demand on the team I reported in my foreword to May’s Pennant has continued at pace over the past six months and I am forever impressed by, and grateful for, the team’s professionalism and commitment – we now count more than 66,000 members and some 52,000 followers across social media!

And we can all use this ever expanding network to help publicise our latest campaigning effort, which seeks to unite Veterans with any unclaimed preserved pension benefits – believe it or not, more than 17,000 AFPS benefits remain unclaimed (see page 8).

You may recall I mentioned our membership survey in the previous two editions of Pennant and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 750 of you who took the time to complete it.  This has given us a very good sense for where you feel we need to focus our limited resources over the coming months and years. Overall, it was a very positive message we received from you, but I am in no way complacent – this is all about continuous improvement. A summary of the survey results and next steps is at page 77.

Finally, I would like to highlight that by the time May 2024’s edition of Pennant is published, Mike Davis, our Deputy Head of Pensions, will have retired. Mike has been and remains a font of pensions knowledge, helping to shape and influence outcomes in such complex areas as pension taxation and the AFPS 15 remedy (McCloud). He has also gone to great lengths to impart much of that expertise and experience onto the Pensions Team during his time with the Society. I would like to use this space to thank Mike for his sterling service (which I know will continue until late March 2024) and wish him a long, happy and healthy retirement when it comes.

And please continue to let us know what you think.

Neil Marshall, Chief Executive.

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