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West Midlands Pension fund

Developing a New Generation of Financial Leaders
The Specific Challenge:

A MAJOR GAP between the leadership experience of the Senior Management Team (several of whom were in sight of retirement age) and the middle-managers who had received little development other than in technical and business skills. There was also a need to change the leadership style and culture of the organisation to become more inclusive and engaged with its employees in order to improve performance in a rapidly changing market.


West Midlands Pension Fund (WMPF) was, at the time of our engagement,  the largest fund in the UK primarily serving local government. It has over 257,000 members and 300 Scheme employers. The assets of the fund of ca. £9bn were primarily managed in-house by a team of investment professionals. WMPF faced unprecedented change because of the planned reforms of the UK pension industry and because of the declining and increasingly competitive traditional market. The organisation had been very traditional in its directive style of leadership and career progression based on longevity and favour rather than merit. Nadine Perrins was recruited to manage the restructure of the organisation and the performance and development of the people to meet these changing needs alongside the introduction of a new national pension scheme in 2014.

Desired Outcomes/Goals:

  • To produce a cadre of leaders across the organisation at different levels that could provide improved performance through development and engagement of all staff.
  • Leadership succession planning for the fund from internal staff, supplemented by external recruiting.
  • To produce leaders who:
    think beyond their own self-interest and their own departments / silos for the benefit of the organisation and all its stakeholders.
    have increased self-confidence to challenge the status quo.
    bring their values to full consciousness in everything they do.
    demonstrate embedded new behaviours that improve both their own performance and the performance of those around them.
    are more focused on developing their people and providing an environment that maximizes sustainable levels of performance.


Taking a series of three cohorts of nine executives over a period of two years, a leadership development programme was undertaken which included the following:

  •         A diagnostic: interviewing each participant in advance to identify individual issues, relationships between participants, and their views of the organisations. A non-attributable report produced to provide an overview SWOT analysis of the organisation.
  •        A series of one day MasterClasses that enable participants to meet the goals outlined which focus on developing emotional intelligence (EI) and transpersonal leadership using LeaderShape’s REAL model.
  •         Individual and team 360° assessments using the unique LEIPA 360° assessment tool which not only measures EI and identifies key development areas but also assesses competence is 6 leadership styles and their importance in the organisation and their individual role. Also included was a mini-8ICOL© self-assessment to help identify competences in personal conscience and self- determination.

Individual leadership coaching for all participants, extended for those who had specific career opportunities or organizational / personal challenges.  A coaching programme was also set up for the new Director (equivalent to Managing Director) appointed in the middle of this programme to support her assimilate into the organisation and in making the right strategic decisions

Success Against Desired Outcomes

All but one of the participants reported that they found value in the programme and over 80% found it to be both very enjoyable and very worthwhile in terms of improving their performance in their own roles and in increasing their self-confidence. Participant in the first cohort rated the overall value at 8.4 out of ten and the second cohort at 9.1.

The programme found out how those very few who were not willing to learn could be better leaders and work for the best of the organisation. Feedback from across the organisation demonstrates that a big majority of the participants are performing at a very high level.

The silos that existed at the beginning of the programme have been broken down to such an extent that each cohort is now an important X-division team. Teams are responding well to the new KPIs (key performance indicators) set by the new Director and her senior management team.

In general, the organisation is more robust in responding to the increasing pressures of the changing pension’s industry environment. The organisation has become much more focused on serving the employer organisations that individual member clients work for.

The leaders who participated on the programme are much more resilient to leading their people through difficult times.


Comments from the participants:

The following are anonymous comments from the participants of the programme extracted from WMPF’s in-house evaluation of the programme.

“This was an excellent development opportunity which should be offered across the Pension Service as it would enable both managers and staff to learn more about the impact they have on their peers and colleagues which would contribute towards changing the culture of the organisation!”

When asked "would you recommend this programme to a colleague?" 93% said “YES”

“At times due to my heavy workload I would sometimes feel that I could not justify the day out of the office however on each occasion I returned to work refreshed and positive. I feel that the tier below me would benefit from this programme.”

There were, in fact, a very large number of positive comments and you can see more of them in ourTestimonials section.

Question  “Was the programme good value?” 86% said “YES”.

    93% were selected for the course by senior management. 

Personal & Organisational Performance Improvement: 

The following is anonymous feedback from the participants on the value of the programme extracted from WMPF’s in-house evaluation of the programme. One a scale of 1 (not at all) to 10 (very much)

  • Helped me perform my job role better to benefit of WMPF 64% scored eight to ten.
  • Helped me better understand my role as a leader at WMPF 64% scored eight to ten.
  • Increased my Self-awareness: 79% scored eight to ten.
  • Increased my Self-confidence: 57% scored eight to ten.  


For further information on how we can help your organisation contact us on +44 (0)330 323 0275  or visit our website