Posts Tagged ‘Professional Trustees’

Brian Spence

The former Chairman of The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) is quoted as saying that TPAS is in danger of being “dumped or carved up” whereas Government Minister Angela Eagle states that TPAS has embarked on a “modernisation and efficiency programme.”

Members of trust based pension schemes have trustees to protect their interests (increasingly schemes have professional trustees)  backed by legions of advisers and with the might of the Pensions Regulator behind them if necessary.   Trust based schemes are also required to have their own Internal Disputes Resolution Procedure. Usually complaints are resolved either informally or through the Scheme’s disputes procedure. If a member is unhappy with the final decision of the trustees, which is often subject to an internal appeals process as well, their complaint can go to the Pensions Ombudsman.

In contract based schemes there is the provider’s complaints procedure, the Financial Services Authority and the Financial Services Ombudsman.

In the last resort pension scheme members also have recourse to the Courts.

The question is does the taxpayer really need TPAS at all?

Pensions issues are complex detailed and the more difficult issues can often only be resolved with the assistance of highly skilled pensions lawyers and actuaries. Many TPAS advisors are well intentioned but are often volunteers with a busy day job.

Can TPAS really actually add much value to the work of all the professionals involved?

TPAS advisers are meant to be neutral arbiters and not in any sense a member’s “champion” and the majority appear to understand this. However, on occasion, particularly where the issues involved are complex and outside the particular area of expertise of the adviser, they can be more of a hindrance than a help (and arguably add significantly to the professional fees involved in resolving an issue).

If there is a problem with the quality of governance then the root cause should be dealt with and the Pensions Regulator has made great strides in this area.

Is TPAS a sensible use of public money at all in these straitened times? We think not.

Brian Spence is a founder of actuaries Spence & Partners Limited and a director of independent trustee Dalriada Trustees Limited.  You can follow him at @briandspence or @PensionsEndgame on Twitter or link to him on LinkedIn.  Dalriada provides professional trustee services and Spence & Partners can provide support to employers in appointing an independent trustee.  Brian has written a series of articles on appointing an independent trustee.

Follow @SpencePartners and @DalriadaTrustee on Twitter.

Brian Spence

Even with the best advice decisions by pension trustees do not always work out as well as hoped for.

Employers can fail, transactions that promised to improve the employer’s position can look less attractive with hindsight.

The time horizon for pension schemes is such that it can be many years before issues are raised.

Sometimes trustees and advisers can be required to explain and justify themselves. Almost all of today’s written communication is electronic and while document management systems (whether these are electronic or paper based) are essential these should always be supported by secure email archiving – i.e. a searchable record of every single email into or out of the enterprise (obviously these days spam must be filtered out first).

One of the best investments we ever made was in our email archiving solution Mimosa Nearpoint (obviously operated in a virtualised environment as all servers should these days – see earlier article).

Lay pension scheme trustees should ensure that secure searchable archiving of all their personal email is in place. They should also ensure that they understand the email archiving and retention policies of their key service providers.

Brian Spence is a founder of actuaries Spence & Partners Limited and a director of independent trustee Dalriada Trustees Limited.  You can follow him at @briandspence or @PensionsEndgame on Twitter or link to him on LinkedIn.  Dalriada provides professional trustee services and Spence & Partners can provide support to employers in appointing an independent trustee.  Brian has written a series of articles on appointing an independent trustee.

Follow @SpencePartners and @DalriadaTrustee on Twitter.

Rebecca Lavender

Independent Trustee Dalriada Trustees Limited, sister company to Spence & Partners, are pleased to announce that from 1st October Claire McGruer will join Brian Spence and Connie Johnstone on the Board of Directors of Dalriada Trustees Limited.

Claire joined Dalriada Trustees in 2007 and acts as a trustee to a number of schemes who benefit from her wide ranging experience providing technical support and advice to both corporate and trustee clients.

Brian Spence commented that “Connie and I are delighted that Claire will be joining us and we are confident that this is a positive development that will strengthen our business in terms of both shaping the strategic direction and our decision making processes as a trustee.”

For further information please contact David Davison at consulting actuaries Spence & Partners on 0141 331 1004.

Issued on behalf of Spence & Partners by Karen Milne at Blueprint Media tel 0141 353 1515
Date:   January 2010

David Davison

Watching you, watching me

A non-executive directorship used to be the icing on the cake to many a long and distinguished political, financial or commercial career.

Leaving the white heat of competition behind them, these positions afforded leading figures the chance to put their experience and knowledge to use, earn a handsome fee for doing so and seemingly carried few personal liabilities or responsibilities – certainly none that were taken too seriously.

In the wake of numerous corporate mismanagement scandals that has all changed and the role of a non-executive director is not the hands-off, care free money maker it was once taken for. But what has all this got to do with pensions?

Well, Read more »

David Davison

Attended an excellent half day seminar run by Redington an innovative and dynamic new force in investment consulting who had assembled 100 of the UK’s leading pension scheme trustees to discuss the future of trustee communication.

The interactive format allowed trustees to give their opinions on key issues, consider the impact of social media on trustee communication and participate in shaping its future. There was also a presentation of Mallow Street a new social media site specifically dedicated to pension trustees, allowing them to easily share information and experience. This should hopefully be with us in a few months time.

As a convert to social media this looks like a really innovative development and it’ll be interesting to see how it evolves and drags the often notoriously conservative pension trustee in to the 21st century.

Brian Spence

Attended a very convivial cocktail party organised by the nice folks at McGrigors Pension Trustees Limited in Glasgow.

The only (semi) professional content of the evening was a fiendishly difficult pensions quiz. The sharpest legal and actuarial brains in Scotland set to work but who should win the bottle of Champagne (well actually a very modestly priced sparkling Italian wine more in keeping with these straitened times) other than our very own business development director David Davison who got 11 questions right out of 15!

Sean Browes

The Pensions Regulator has released figures suggesting that non-professional pension trustees are increasingly uncomfortable with their responsibilities and are losing confidence in their ability to fulfil their role effectively.

The figures showed that just 56% of trustees were able to describe their understanding of their role as “very good”, a drop of 12% from the previous year. There was also a 5% decline in the number of trustees who knew how their scheme’s assets were invested. Read more »

Brian Spence

At the same time as they moved from their long established headquarters at Pacific House, leading Glasgow law firm McGrigors have changed the name of their pension scheme trustee company from Scotia Pacific Trustees Limited to McGrigors Pension Trustees Limited.  The company says it is doing so “to reflect more clearly the nature of the company’s activities, and the link to McGrigors LLP.”

They say that they “believe that experienced pension lawyers are ideally placed to act as pension scheme trustees.”  Hmm not sure this follows 100% of the time but we have substantial experience of working with the team at Scotia, sorry McGrigors and they are good pension scheme trustees and we have been happy to introduce them to our clients.

Good luck to the McGrigors Pension Trustees team with the name change!

David Davison

Since the 2008 decision in Gregson v HAE Trustees Limited, individual trustees and directors of a corporate trustee are no longer exposed to the same risk. While a member will find it difficult to sue the directors of a corporate trustee of the pension scheme, it would be much easier to pursue individual trustees. Even the best run schemes expose individual trustees to risk and trustees are unwise not to take action to reduce their risk exposure in this area especially given a number of recent legal cases – Greenup & Thompson, Ashridge Ltd and Kemp vs Sims – all of which have seen trustees, who were also company directors personally fined for their actions. Read more »

Brian Spence

Spence & Partners has launched a data evaluation tool for scheme trustees and administrators.

The specialist administrator’s launch follows guidance on record keeping from the Pensions Regulator (tPR).

The data tool evaluates the quality of electronically held scheme data and provides a rating. The report also delivers a quality rating in relation to a specific action, such as a scheme buyout or the provision of scheme transfers. Read more »

Page 2 of 41234