OPINION: Replicating for success

Most organisations review their performance in order to rectify deficiencies, but when they find something done well, they try to replicate it across the business.

I’d like to see this logic applied to pension schemes and in particular to TPR’s 21st century trusteeship project. TPR director for regulatory policy Andrew Warwick Thompson’s recent comment on pensionsage.com seems to suggest scheme governance will only be improved through regulation and support from an outside agency, namely TPR.

I’m not suggesting for a minute that TPR shouldn’t seek to drive up standards of governance, but I’d like to see it look for role models among schemes and trustee boards that exceed basic expectations.

The quantitative data Andrew offered focuses on what’s wrong with schemes, not what’s done well. Rather than thinking of clever regulation, benchmarking existing best practice would seem to offer better value for money for TPR’s far too limited budget.

Let me tell you why. AMNT’s typical member is male, over 55 and more than half are still working. Almost two thirds of them are elected MNTs with an average of eight years’ experience. Trustees have done a good job on the whole. There is a lot of talk about trusteeship quality, but it is usually the worst-resourced function of any scheme.

Most AMNT members believe they are given sufficient time for trustee activities, but fewer than a third are paid for their time and more than 10 per cent do not get all their expenses covered.

There is no better example of the alignment of interests than through trustees representing their membership. Instead of simply finding flaws in the system, TPR should marvel at its achievements and seek to preserve the best practices.

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