About us

Pensions Rapport is about working together - as an independent pension scheme trustee, or to help trustees or employers. Each party has a role to play in a largely common aim - ensuring that scheme members get the benefits to which they are entitled.


Our business philosophy is summed up by Einstein: "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." Easier said than done for pensions perhaps, but let's face it, it's hardly quantum physics.  Many pension practitioners either have no vested interest in keeping things simple (as possible), or are totally incapable of doing so.  We believe if the simple things are done right and in a timely manner then there is more time and aptitude for the challenging tasks - which may not be as challenging as a result - and, importantly, costs are kept down.


I'm Phil Howden and I established Pensions Rapport in 2015 with a view to cutting through the 'white-noise'.  Having spent more years than I care to admit involved with all types of company pension schemes; the 25 years prior to Pensions Rapport being split between a pension provider, a global employee benefit consultancy and a small consultancy, I believe I'm well placed to do so. I started my career as a pension scheme administrator and my most recent role prior to Pensions Rapport was client director of a small team of actuaries/consultants and administrators.


I'm a Fellow of the Pensions Management Institute,  a member of the PMI Trustee Group and Fellowship Network, and a former Chair of the Society of Pension Professionals (Yorkshire Group).   I routinely attend the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association's national and investment conferences - both in-depth, multi-day events.  As such I have wide ranging experience of pension schemes, from the perspective of provider, adviser and trustee.


I have a healthy regard for work/life integration which routinely sees me walking in the Yorkshire Dales and, to a less frequent extent, playing bass guitar in covers band, ManFloo. 


And I'm John Burns.  After 37 years as a pensions actuary and consultant, in June 2020 I joined Phil Howden at Pensions Rapport to offer Independent Trustee services to schemes both large and small.


I began my career at R Watson & Sons (now WTW) and moved to PwC before ending my advisory career with 10 years at XPS (including the role of Office Head for the Leeds XPS office).  I was Scheme Actuary for a wide range of pension schemes ranging in size from schemes with assets of over £1/2bn to schemes with under £10m.


I have spent my career advising trustees and sponsors on all aspects of UK occupational pensions schemes.  In recent years I have spent considerable time helping trustees negotiate and agree funding plans with their sponsor in many different circumstances, including cases in which The Pensions Regulator was monitoring the process. 


I believe I have a lot to offer in helping trustee boards work efficiently and run their schemes in a professional and commercial manner.


When people describe me they generally comment on my integrity and no-nonsense approach, a good team player who is practical and gets things done.


In my younger days I did play a lot of sport but in recent years it has been a lot more watching than playing.  However as I now plan on having a new and very different work-life balance than has been the case until recently,  I am going to start playing a bit more.