How Could Pension Scheme Trusteeships Look in the Future?

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21 March, 2019

Recent surveys and high profile campaigns have highlighted changes in the pension's landscape across the UK.

The role of a pension scheme trustee is more challenging than ever with funding, regulation and many other hurdles to overcome.

What is a pension scheme trustee?

A pension scheme trustee is a person or company, acting separately from the employer, who holds assets in the trust for the beneficiaries of the scheme. They are responsible for ensuring that the pension scheme is run properly and that members' benefits are secure.

A recent survey undertaken by RSM:

RSM's pensions team surveyed almost 200 trustees of UK pension schemes to understand how the role of today's pension scheme trustee is changing. They highlighted that today's trustees are frequently stuck between a rock and a hard place of moral obligation and ever-changing industry standards, but that there is also plenty of cause for optimism for the sector. What with industry bodies collaborating more effectively, heightened awareness of fraud risks and a largely positive self-reflection from trustees on job satisfaction and scheme governance, the industry is heading in a new and transformational direction.

The main survey findings included:

  • 65% of respondents said that they were under more pressure than a year ago and only 3% said they were under less pressure
  • 51% of member/company nominated trustees don't feel appropriately rewarded
  • What size scheme is feeling the most pressure? 22% £1bn+ / 46% £100m-£1bn/ 32% less than £100m
  • Where are trustees feeling the most pressure? 71% Sponsors/funding concerns, 56% Time for the role , 54% Regulator requests and 46% Understanding advisors
  • What one thing would ease pressure on the role?
    • 32% said more time
    • 17% said more regulatory support
    • 17% said more clarity from advisors
    • 12% said more training
  • When asked whether there would still be lay trustees in 10 years' time, 70 %of professional trustees said no and just over 47% of lay trustees said yes
  • The most common communication method is still letters or newsletters
  • 60% of trustees indicate that their current administrators are performing 'in line' with SLA's
  • The incidence of fraud has fallen. The most common fraud activity in the pensions world is pensioner existence
  • 58% of respondents support a closer relationship with the Regulatory and the FCA
  • Almost 60% of respondents commented that their relationship with sponsors had remained the same and around 35% commented that their relationship was slightly/ significantly better

Full survey findings can be viewed here.

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) Campaigns:

TPR have a Future programme, where they have completed a review of their entire approach to regulation and this year have started to implement a new regulatory model to drive up standards and tackle risk by engaging proactively with a larger proportion of the schemes and employers regulated.

Further information including their 'Making workplace pensions work' publication can be found here.

What does all of this highlight?

Research indicates those in the industry see the role of pension scheme trustees continuing and evolving, but feel that the future direction is far from clear.

There is a far greater pressure on trustees' shoulders to fulfil both financial and moral obligations to ensure that they are acting in the best interests of their members.

If you would like further information or advice in relation to pension scheme trusteeships, please contact either Adam Bromley or Mohassan Mehmood in the Commercial Property team at Forbes.

Learn more about our SIPP & SSAS department here

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