Professionals believe lay trustees’ days are numbered

Around 70 per cent of pensions professionals believed that lay trustees will not need to be present on pension scheme boards in 10 years’ time, according to a recent survey from RSM.

The survey of around 200 trustees and industry members found that the concern related to the increased professionalisation and pressures of the job.

Furthermore, 62 per cent of respondents felt that they were under more pressure than this time last year, with just three per cent saying that they felt under less pressure.

When asked about what they believed the main pressures were, 71 per cent cited concerns surrounding scheme funding, 56 per cent responded that the role was too time consuming and 54 per cent highlighted the challenges of meeting regulatory demands.

Although the trustee respondents were feeling pressured, 51 per cent said that they were fairly satisfied with their role and 36 per cent responded that they were extremely satisfied.

Commenting on the research, RSM head of pensions, Ian Bell said: “Trustees are clearly under growing pressure from industry and regulatory obligations, and if you look ahead, some things will have to change.

“The Pensions Regulator has already announced a consultation whether all trustee boards should include a professional trustee, and we can see this obligation being extended over the next few years.

“While we can't see any reduction in red tape on the horizon, our survey points to some immediate steps that scheme chairs can take to alleviate some of the pressures on board members - for example by reviewing the frequency or length of meetings, or organising sub-committees to get through business more efficiently.

“Trustee advisers also have a key role to play in ensuring that appropriate support is given to trustee boards to help them get to the heart of key decisions that need to be made.”

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