'The pensions industry underpins the economic and social life in Ireland'

Rose Leonard, Head of Corporate Distribution & CRM at Zurich Life on the future of pensions in Ireland

14th August, 2018
Rose Leonard, Head of Corporate Distribution & CRM at Zurich Life

What's your name?

Rose Leonard

What position do you hold?

Head of Corporate Distribution & CRM at Zurich Life

How long have you held the position?

Since 2012

What are your day to day responsibilities?

My day to day role centres around supporting employers and trustees on the design and implementation of pension schemes, the investment strategies, governance models and the ongoing service and investment performance reviews of those schemes and their underlying funds.

I also regularly meet pension scheme members and help them understand their benefits and the fundamental need to save privately for their own futures.

What is your professional background?

I joined Zurich in 2012 as Head of Customer Relationship Management for CLP Ireland. I am a Director of Zurich Trustee Services Limited and also a trustee of a large defined benefit scheme.

I am Past President and Fellow of the Irish Institute of Pensions Management (IIPM) – the education body for pension scheme trustees and practitioners. During my tenure as President of the IIPM, I launched the first professional pension qualification specifically for pension fund trustees in Ireland in preparation for the IORPS II Directive.

I hold a Masters in Business (Leadership and Management) and a Post Graduate Diploma in Corporate Governance. I serve on IBEC’s Retirement & Pensions Working Group and IBEC’s Digital Policy Committee. My passion is deploying simple frameworks to help employers and trustees manage their schemes effectively.

Tell me about yourself away from work?

I lead an active life through swimming and walking and I regularly escape for a hike in the Wicklow mountains. I also enjoy travelling and am about to head off to Toronto, Boston and Washington DC. Married with two adult children; my son Stephen is an Officer with the Irish Navy and my daughter Maria is studying law in UCD.

Tell us something very few people know about you?

Originally from Co. Kildare, I grew up on a farm and return there frequently.

You are speaking at the Sunday Business Post’s National Pensions Summit. What do

you think of the speaker line-up and conference focus?

Insights from the Regulators, trustees, industry experts in Ireland and the UK and economists should result in great discussion and debate. And it will be fantastic to be led off with a presentation from the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection who will hopefully give more clarification on some aspects of the Roadmap for Pensions Reform in particular her vision for auto enrolment.

What challenges do you see for employers and trustees for the future of pensions in


Many employers have done tremendous work in recent years investing in the Wellbeing of their employees. The importance of mental and physical wellbeing is finally being grasped with employees being actively encouraged to tackle their feeling through talking and engaging with employee assistance programmes and the need to exercise regularly.

Financial wellbeing is also a critical element to an employee’s overall wellbeing. Numerous studies conducted right around the world tell us that there is overwhelming evidence indicating that the affluence of the area in which you were born, the social class to which you belong and your educational attainment all positively impact on your life expectancy.

I would like to see employers and trustees actively encourage their employees to save privately and help them to accept responsibility themselves for their own financial security in retirement through committing to long term saving through their pension schemes.

Where would you like to see the pensions industry in 10 years time?

The pensions industry underpins the economic and social life in Ireland. Our responsibility is to get more people saving privately for their own futures; to help them have a more financially secure future; to help people realise that their futures can only be financially secure if they start putting money aside today. The most tax efficient way for most people to save long term is through their employer sponsored pension scheme.

There are a whole lot of changes being discussed which may impact on defined contribution

schemes – things like auto-enrolment, Master Trust and the IORPS II Directive. We don’t know the impact of those changes right now. They are getting more people talking about pensions though and that’s good. Today, there are only about one-third of the people in the private sector actively saving for their own futures through pension schemes. Within ten years, perhaps with the help of auto enrolment and greater employee engagement, I would love to see two-thirds of the people in the private sector saving privately through an employer pension scheme.

Rose Leonard will be appearing at the National Pensions Summit. The agenda and further details of this important national event at Croke Park on September 19th can be found at pensionssummit.ie

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