PLSA Local Authority 2017: 'More colour' needed to clarify the remit of pension boards

Written by Talya Misiri

"More colour" is needed to clarify the roles and responsibilities of pension boards and scheme advisory boards, it has been stated.

Speaking at the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association Local Authority Conference, KMPG partner, public service pensions Steve Simkins noted that a recent study found that there is a lack of clarity around purpose and roles of those governing pension schemes.

Simkins opined that pension boards are getting "embroiled" when it comes to investment decisions and that they "should take a higher role around governance".

KPMG also noted that a third, 33 per cent, of schemes surveyed were not aware of what the public service code of practice section 14 is, which can assist with outlining governance boards.

Also speaking in the session on scheme governance, TPR head of policy Fiona Frobisher agreed that there is a need to clarify the roles and responsibilities of pension boards and committees.

"You have to work that out for yourselves as this will differ across each scheme, and make sure everyone is clear with what they are accountable for," Frobisher said.

Commenting on data management, Frobisher added that TPR found a majority of 83 per cent of local authority schemes are reviewing their data, but of these, only 23 per cent of them have improvement plans.

"It's important to get something meaningful, not just going through the process," she said.

Moreover, PLSA chair Lesley Williams focussed on the recurring theme and need for diversity on pension boards. There is "very little focus on people we put on pension boards... we need to be asking: do they have the right skill sets, do they have the right cognitive diversity", rather than just fulfilling our own biases and group think, Williams explained.

"If we get the people right, then the need to almost micro manage everything we do should disappear or lessen significantly," Williams added.

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