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Washington call for Suffolk money man

PUBLISHED: 06:06 17 June 2005 | UPDATED: 05:56 02 March 2010

A FINANCE expert has been plucked from a quiet Suffolk town to help solve the world's biggest pension crisis.

Kesgrave consultant David Harris was today due to appear before a powerful United States House of Representatives committee to face a grilling over pension reform.

A FINANCE expert has been plucked from a quiet Suffolk town to help solve the world's biggest pension crisis.

Kesgrave consultant David Harris was today due to appear before a powerful United States House of Representatives committee to face a grilling over pension reform.

America fears its state pension system will be sucked into a financial black hole by 2037 and has called on Mr Harris and other world specialists to work out what to do.

Mr Harris, a managing director of TOR Financial Consulting in Turner Grove, Kesgrave, helped reform pensions in his home country of Australia before setting up business in England.

He believes his experience in the two countries is why the 12-strong panel from the Committee of Ways and Means is so interested in him.

He said: "There are lessons to be learnt from the UK and Australia about what to do and what not to do.

"Australia grasped the nettle in the mid-1990s and introduced compulsory savings and the UK has made some classic mistakes with pension misselling."

Population changes and longer life expectancies mean America's social security system will soon be paying out more to retirees than it is receiving.

The phenomenon is global - Britain reportedly has a £57billion shortfall - and Mr Harris warned the people of Suffolk to take more responsibility.

He said: "It can't be too early to start saving. Suffolk has a lot of employees in the farming community and our incomes are lower compared to say London.

"We have also lost a large number of employers who are offering pensions schemes."

Britain is currently waiting for the Turner report later this year, which is expected to give options of either introducing compulsory savings accounts, forcing employers to set up accounts for workers or increase the retirement age to 75.

Mr Harris moved to Kesgrave in 1997 after meeting his business and personal partner, Sue Jones, while they were both working for the Office of Fair Trading in London.

He is proud of helping the community - his company sponsors the Kesgrave cricket team - yet he says his visit to Washington shows how businesses in Suffolk can exert worldwide influence.

He said: "On Sunday, I was talking about buying cricket mats and now I am discussing a global pension crisis."

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