Shaper: Will Wynne

Show aired on 2nd September 2017

Transcript

Will Wynne

Will Wynne is MD and co-founder of auto enrolment provider Smart Pension.  Smart Pension was built specifically to help thousands of small British businesses sign up their employees to a workplace pension scheme, as required by law. He co-founded the firm in 2014 with Andrew Evans, CEO and launched in May 2015. Smart Pension has a five star rating from Defaqto in the auto enrolment category.

LGIM took a minority stake in Smart Pension in 2016, part of a move by LGIM to invest in high-achieving, innovative technology that has a positive impact on the wider UK economy. It was recently named FinTech Innovation of the Year and overall winner by the Digital Leaders 100.

Will’s background is in banking and technology.  After five years in private equity, he was one of the first fifty employees at EBay where he was part of the team that oversaw the firms’s rapid rise in the UK. Since then he co-founded ArenaFlowers.co.uk, one of the UK’s leading online florists.

Follow Will on Twitter @willwynne.

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The Government and the incumbents who’ve been around forever just tried to tack this on to their existing operating model, which is sort of letters and stamps and shuffling pieces of paper around.

We’ve said, take the whole thing, break it down, re-build it and optimise it using technology so something that took weeks can be done in minutes.

20 years ago, on my first day at work, I turned up on the trading floor of a French bank in a corduroy jacket with flopping blonde hair to find a room full of wide boys who thought I was the funniest thing to ever walk through the door.

Andrew Evans, who joined the week before me, was delighted because I took over the role of the person who had their head kicked in by all the traders. We remained friends, and a few years ago he said, there is this thing called auto-enrolment coming, over ten million people have to do it. He is who I co-founded Smart with.

The pension sector is heavily regulated and you wouldn’t want to go into it without deep specialist knowledge because if you get it wrong you shoot yourself in the foot on day one.

You can’t really launch a product that doesn’t quite work as you’d hope but you push it out anyway then tweak it as you go along if you are handling someone’s pension or looking after regulatory burdens for employers and their advisors. That’s not appropriate.

We started a discretionary gift business in 2006 months before the global financial crisis when everyone tightened their belts. That was spectacularly bad timing. On the day of the Northern Rock queues round the block our conversion rate dropped to 40% and stayed that level for a long time.

It’s a pretty lonely job being a managing director. Sometimes you’ve got to make a decision so just get on with it, but you should take guidance.

You’ve got to keep thinking about first principals. We don’t do stuff the same way everyone else. We must maintain our nimbleness and our flexibility – that’s how we disrupt.