Professional trustees needed for ‘significant’ issues

Pension schemes should think about putting professional trustees in place where the “issues are so significant”, The Pensions Regulator has suggested.

Speaking at the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) Trustee Conference today, 6 December, TPR head of policy Fiona Frobisher said that in some cases, such as when a sponsoring employer is being sold, there is an argument for professional trustee support to be mandatory.

The comments came as the regulator laid out its plans for its new funding framework recommended in the defined benefit white paper last year.

Frobisher said: “We are having to work through and think about it [how to support lay trustees through a sale]. We expect trustees to be front and centre to do this.

“The question about when we can help lay trustees, and there is no professional trustee, it does beg the question as to whether you need a professional trustee for these kind of circumstances? Whether there are issues that are so significant that you must have a professional trustee.”

She added that TPR recognises that most trustees do a good job, and their role is to try and make it easier for trustees to do the right thing.

“Most people are doing the right thing and what we are trying to do is make it easier for trustees to do the right thing. We are long way down the road from how this is going to be implemented and what it means for regulation.

“We are not in the business of acting for trustees, so there is a responsibility for lay trustees to be doing it.”

Furthermore, TPR said that it is in the process of developing the framework and that it expects legislative change to take effect with the pensions bill in 2019.

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