We have said before that trustees are more effective team if they work together, sharing experiences and knowledge. Relying on a perceived star player is a strategy fraught with risk. Corporate history is littered with examples of such companies. And let’s not mention the current Sir, Philip Green and BHS, in the same breath.
At the same time that the flood of regulation and guidance to trustees has seemed to overload us, our friends in Brighton have been leading a debate about what trusteeship looks like in the 21st Century. One of the themes that we believe and is good to see is the recognition that just as diversity in the company boardroom is now seen as best practice, the same is equally true of trustee boards. This is not simply a gender issue but also a skill set issue.
In the same way that a company board usually have a mix of HR, IT, Finance and Operations specialists; Trustee Boards should look to have a similar breath of skills on their board. For the role of the non-executive director, the professional trustee should be stepping up to the plate. This is the person who has seen other schemes face similar issues and sharing that learning and experience in order to get the best possible result for the Trustee.
Member nominated trustees are every bit as important as company nominated trustees. They usually have a greater understanding of the culture of the company and can judge the impact of specific change on different groups of members. The knowledge and experience which all trustees have should be brought to the benefit of the trustee board.
The team that learns together is a more effective unit than one which learns individually. Whilst the Trustee Toolkit is a useful start in trustee knowledge and understanding, it’s applying this learning to the specifics of the Scheme which is the real trick. There is an important role to be played by the Scheme advisers, not by looking to score points of each other, but working together to ensure that training on specific topics and the appropriate time is always given.
There is no doubt that trustees need to continually develop their skills and expertise in order to meet all that is expected by policy makers. That this is not a one person show seems to us to be a statement of the obvious. Just as we have seen in the Olympics and Paralympics, the athletes have support staff all around them, pulling in the same direction, in order to achieve the highest standards. To us as professional trustees, we could not think of a better model for trustee boards to be aspiring to.
If this sounds like the way you believe trustee boards should be working why not contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a more in depth discussion.