Meet Robbie - he never planned to work after retirement but now he has the best of both worlds

Age-friendly Employer: FSCS

Robbie Graham

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Robbie Graham

Current role: Life Insurance Adviser
Age at time of interview: 71
Time at FSCS: 15 years

At 71, Robbie is the oldest employee at the FSCS. He enjoys commuting from Northern Ireland to London for a few days a month and is proud to work for a unique organisation that provides an essential service to its customers. Robbie’s phased retirement has lasted more than 15 years.

I’d assumed my working days were over and that I’d spend my retirement at my home in Northern Ireland. Then I received a phone call from the FSCS. They asked me if I could come and help out with a project for around three months, but the project turned out to be rather longer than that. Fifteen years later, I’m still here!

The risks may be low, but the effects can be devastating

I'm a life insurance advisor, so my focus is protecting policyholders in the event of the failure of a life insurance company. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does the ramifications can be huge as insurers are responsible for looking after the financial security, pensions and savings of millions of people in the UK.

Although there is a low risk of failure, it's an extremely large market sector. So the FSCS needs to be prepared with in-depth knowledge of the industry, but it doesn’t necessarily need someone full-time. This is why my flexible working arrangement of a few days per month works so well for both the FSCS and myself.

My commute from Northern Ireland to London

The nature of my current role fits perfectly into my life. I travel over from Northern Ireland for a three to four day stint each month, and I can also work remotely from home. The reason I wanted to continue working beyond retirement age was because I’d worked a lifetime in the City of London and this was an opportunity to stay connected. I can keep up my old contacts and make use of the knowledge that I gained during my extensive career. I still really enjoy the buzz of the City.

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The FSCS is unique globally

I’ve enjoyed two careers. In my first career, I worked for a large UK insurance group, which gave me an insight into the highest levels of the workings of the insurance industry. In contrast, I think the FSCS has a very specialist function. It's one of a kind in the UK and is unique globally for the scope of the protection that it provides.

Wait 17 years for a pay out? Not any more, thanks to the FSCS

The first project I worked on at the FSCS came about because a small life insurance company failed in 1992. The FSCS found itself having to pick up the pieces of that failure which was only finally resolved in 2009, meaning a lot of policyholders had to wait 17 years for a pay-out. Even then they only got back part of their pensions, or a part of their savings. We've been working very hard to prevent that kind of situation arising again by getting regulations changed and putting a workable plan into action.

One of the headline benefits that we've achieved for policyholders is that their contractual life insurance benefits and their pension income payments are now very likely to continue in full, even if an insurance company were to fail.

I've always been quite independent-minded and willing to state my case. Even so, I’ve found in the later stages of my career that there's a greater freedom to pursue goals and to say what one thinks!

What's Great About The FSCS?

We’re performing an essential service

The FSCS provides an essential service at the personal level because it prevents individual hardship. At the national level, its role is to maintain confidence and stability in the whole financial services industry.

Flexible working gives me the best of both worlds

I like the mixture of being at home in the countryside and then having the opportunity to come to London on a fairly regular basis. I also do some work from home thanks to the FSCS’s secure remote access.

The FSCS is flying the flag for age diversity

There are quite a few older workers around the FSCS office and I think it's noticeable that the company has got a good degree of age diversity. I think the practice of flexible working encourages that. The FSCS needs to buy in experience and I think that attracting older workers is a very good way of doing that.

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“Interaction between the generations spreads skills much more rapidly and effectively”

Robbie Graham
Life Insurance Advisor, FSCS

Robbie's career journey

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Robbie's advice to others

Together, younger and older employees share and spread skills

It’s important that companies employ people from different generations because those generations have had different experiences during their lifetimes. The skills aren't evenly spread. Younger people perhaps have had a different education and they're more in tune with technology, but older people can bring a broader experience and deeper knowledge. The interaction between the two then spreads those skills much more rapidly and effectively, rather than one person trying to learn them all.

Complex knowledge needs a long-term approach

Complex knowledge is a long-term thing and it needs a continuous long-term approach to transfer that knowledge. It is something which requires systemic succession planning across the organisation. In the short-term, during key situations, it's essential to practise deputising some types of work as part of the transfer. If a business doesn’t transfer those skills, they lose the knowledge and they lose time. They go back a step.

Look for work that you’ll enjoy

If you’re newly-retired, do what feels right for you. In any case, definitely take a good long break. After a while, with the pressure off, be prepared to find work that appeals to you and that you’ll enjoy.

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Robbie trained as a carpenter after his initial retirement. He enjoys walking, gardening, bridge, and reading.

Just some of Robbie’s interests and side hustles

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