Exclusive: 62% of DB scheme pro trustees plan to step down within 3 years

Nearly two-thirds (62 per cent) of defined benefit (DB) pension scheme professional trustees are planning to step down from their role within the next three years, according to research from Charles Stanley Fiduciary Management.

More than half (56 per cent) of those planning to step down within three years cited regulations being too burdensome as a reason for them intending to leave their role.

The second most commonly cited reason for leaving within three years was not having the necessary knowledge for the job (44 per cent), while 41 per cent said that reporting requirements being too onerous was a factor motivating them to step down.

Almost a quarter (24 per cent) said the role was taking up too much of their time.

Just 12 per cent were leaving within the next three years as it was the end of their tenure.

Of the DB scheme professional trustees planning to step down for their roles within three years, 31 per cent were planning to do so in the next seven to 11 months, with the average time being around 18 months.

Charles Stanley Fiduciary Management said its findings highlighted that there was not just a critical need to stem the outflow of experienced trustees, but to shine a spotlight on the challenges that need to be addressed to attract and retain the required influx of new talent.

Among all the respondents, 45 per cent felt that not only were regulations overly complex, but also that they had insufficient support from official bodies, with 16 per cent feeling this ‘strongly’.

“Trustees play a crucial role in securing the long-term stability and success of pensions funds,” commented Charles Stanley Fiduciary Management senior portfolio manager, Bob Campion.

“While regulatory oversight is rightly rigorous, if it becomes so complex and burdensome that it’s driving trustees out of the industry; that should ring alarm bells. A trustee drain would significantly hinder the pension sector.

“This is an issue that the government and regulators must address, but the burden is also on the industry to listen.

“Given the wide range of technical matters trustees have to address it’s more important than ever before that trustees have the right support from service providers and advisers so they feel confident their pension schemes are operating within a robust governance framework. In terms of investment governance, fiduciary managers have a vital role to play in providing that support.”

The research was carried out by Censuswide in August 2021 among 55 professional trustees of UK DB pension funds with an average AUM of £302m.

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