Asking the difficult questions – being a member nominated trustee

One of the things that our members always tell us is that the greatest contribution they can make as member nominated trustees is asking the questions that no one else is prepared to ask.

Challenging the experts. And with our 700 members representing some £700 billion of assets under management, we know just how important good training is to help trustees gain the knowledge and confidence they need to ask those challenging questions.

In our latest survey our members told us that one of their top training priorities was holding advisers to account. To be in a position to do this, trustees need to have a certain level of knowledge and understanding about their legal duties and responsibilities, which are set out in TPR’s code of practice on trustee knowledge and understanding (TKU).

With pensions regulations and guidance subject to constant change, refreshing our learning is something all trustees need to make time for, whether we have been a trustee for twenty-odd years, or are new to the job.

There are various ways to learn the basics and keep our TKU up to date, but you can’t beat TPR’s Trustee toolkit. I promise I’m not just saying that because I’m writing a guest blog – I’m genuinely a huge fan.

The toolkit follows the journey of a new pension scheme trustee as they learn about the importance of good scheme governance, and what effective governance means in practice. But I want to emphasise that the toolkit is not only for new trustees.

The changes in law and in TPR’s own guidance mean that they have to keep updating it. Four of the original modules I completed are now ‘archived’ as they’ve been replaced by new material. The new module, ‘investment in a defined benefit scheme’ goes into a lot more very welcome detail than the material it has replaced, no doubt in response to the greater expectations on trustees. It reflects the latest TPR guidance, such as the possibility of using expected return on scheme assets as an alternative to gilts-plus as a basis for setting the discount rate. And if your eyes glazed over when your actuary waxed lyrical on stochastic modelling, you will be delighted to know that you can now have your very own private tutorial on it.

I can still remember how, after first completing the toolkit many years ago, there was a great improvement in my performance at trustee meetings – as a result not only of the knowledge I gained, but also the resulting boost in my confidence. So much so that within weeks of completing the toolkit (with distinction I might add!) I went on to take and pass all three modules of the Pensions Management Institute Level 3 award in Trusteeship.

I’m really proud to be a part of AMNT, an organisation where people are so passionate about giving their time to look after the retirement savings of others. I don’t think there’s ever been a time where the decisions we make have come under so much scrutiny, which is why keeping our TKU up to date is so important. It means we can continue to challenge the experts with difficult questions, confident that we’re asking them from a knowledgeable and informed position.

To sign up for free, visit the Trustee toolkit. If you haven’t already, do it now.

Janice Turner
By Janice Turner
Co-Chair of the Association of Member Nominated Trustees