If a company, trustee or pensions manager needs extra help, Pinsent Masons Pensions Services has the expertise to deliver. Whether it’s a one-off project or just providing extra resource, we have the experience required.
The pensions manager is usually involved with the strategy for the pension scheme they manage. At times they may not have enough time to devote to logistical issues such as acting as scheme secretary or to running a specific project.
We can work with the pensions manager to deliver on these important areas of scheme management, allowing the pensions manager to concentrate on the strategy for the pension scheme. The requirements seem endless and the range of knowledge required to be able to run a pension scheme is vast. It is difficult enough for those who make trusteeship their day job!
Lay trustees are by and large unpaid, but are having to accept more and more responsibility and the possibility of conflicts of interest is coming under greater scrutiny. Until recently, it was sufficient that a trustee should carry out his duties in such a manner as an “ordinary prudent man of business” would manage his own affairs. The emphasis now is that trustees should have a level of proficiency and competence commensurate with their fiduciary duties.
How can we add value to your Trustee Board?
Pinsent Masons Pensions Services can add value to an existing Trustee Board or as a sole Trustee by offering:
- An experienced, expert and independent trustee rather than a stand-alone guru.
- A cost effective, pragmatic and non-confrontational style of trusteeship. We are able to apply proportionate trusteeship, having regard to the size and resources of the fund.
- In-built legal skills, with the trustee having a professional qualification in trusteeship, helping to avoid the over-engineering of advice. We can distinguish genuinely important issues from the more trivial or technical. By using our legal skills, we can simplify rather than complicate the practice of trusteeship, and understand the discretions and powers available to trustees to resolve problems.
- Practical experience of dealing with accounting, actuarial, administrative and investment issues of trusteeship. We work with, rather than against, professional advisers, yet still recognise when service levels are inadequate.
- A trusteeship style which is intended to balance the objective of ensuring a minimum level of personal risk to the trustee board whilst conducting the affairs of the scheme in a proportionate manner.
On a day to day basis, we are involved with:
- Reviewing providers of services to trustees and subsequently negotiating new terms and conditions and project managing the transfer of services.
- Working with co-trustees to devise investment strategies.
- Indicating to co-trustees ways of managing claims and reducing future claims from members.
- Exploring with co-trustees ways in which to reduce trustee liability to the minimum.
- Presenting complex issues to members and their representative bodies.
The trustees rather than the scheme actuary are now responsible for integrated risk management and the Pensions Regulator continues to put more onus on trustees responsibitilities.
Trustees are expected to negotiate vigorously with a scheme sponsor to bring funding to a stronger level, and have a duty to understand the sponsors’ covenant. This requirement for financial understanding of the scheme, the employer and the implications for companies’ balance sheets heralds a far greater need for the professional trustee.
We are aware of the extent of the task, and have significant resources to ensure those who act as trustees have an understanding of those issues facing pension schemes. We are able to tap into company, accounting, employment, tax and a whole host of other specialisms – for a five minute exploratory chat or something more detailed.
Part of the value we add as an independent trustee is to help make trustee meetings more focused – we do this by anticipating questions, making sure supporting papers actually support the business of the meeting, thereby ensuring that as much of the business as possible is dealt with as it arises, in a timely and efficient manner. Our legal foundation can reduce risk; ensure compliance and spot future problems in their infancies.