Like many businesses at this time of year we were sitting down to plan for the year to come. We were looking to figure out the key issues for pensions and what our current and future clients will want from us in 2016 and beyond.

To start with we looked at what had gone on in 2015 and in true ‘Strictly’ fashion, in no particular order we came up with;

  • The Pensions Regulator’s consultation on the current DC Code. We applaud the desire to get all things DC documented in one place and the focus on value for (member’s) money and good member outcomes. When the consultation is completed and the final updated Code produced there will have been north of 500,000 employees having joined a pension scheme, many for the first time. The need for Trustees to be able to develop, in conjunction with the scheme or master trust sponsor, vehicles which provide for members to be able to afford to retire in the future (whatever that looks like) is essential.
  • Our friends in Brighton also produced some important work for defined benefit schemes. The revised code 3 for defined benefit schemes affected all schemes with a valuation date of 29 July 2014 and beyond. Setting out the responsibilities of trustees and sponsors, developing an integrated approach to risk management and possibly more important, the focus on the trustees understanding the employer covenant have had a marked effect on defined benefit schemes. The collaborative working approach between trustees and scheme sponsor urged by the Pensions Regulator is based on our experience beginning to be felt. As always, there is no ‘one size fit’s all’ approach that can be adopted and trustees have to be able to respond flexibly and sometime extremely quickly in discussions with sponsors.
  • Scheme governance requirements have increased across the board for both defined benefit and defined contribution schemes (Master trusts and the AAF02/07 assurance framework for example, which is now seen as essential to developing future and maintaining current business). Solutions to complex issues are becoming ever more complex and require different oversight by trustees.
  • Administration continues to be a subject which can get squeezed at trustee meetings whilst more time is spent on other topics. The issue for us is that all roads lead back to the scheme administration. Fire-fighting problems when incorrect figures have been provided to members, the actuary is querying the interpretation of the scheme rules and the sponsor’s HR team complaining about service failures are serious issues. For us as trustee, being on top of scheme administration is something we believe cannot be over rated.

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Merry Christmas from Clark Benefit Consulting and for an even merrier new year, call us for a no obligation discussion on 0845 4334 199 or email enquiries@cbcpensionservices.co.uk

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