“Many organisations and people provide the services that clients need. In my opinion, the differentiator is in the way those services are provided and to that extent, Kathy embodies the qualities that I have come to value from PSITL. Kathy is organised but not fussy; diligent but not dogmatic; persistent without being pushy and compliant in a pragmatic way. Whilst she takes ownership and drives issues forward, Kathy is a team player who uses her and her colleagues experience to provide services to her trustee client whilst working closely with those like me representing the sponsoring employer. She works collaboratively with advisers but constructively challenges the scope of services, fees and service standards whenever necessary and makes sure that member needs are always taken into account. I enjoy working with her and trust that she will deliver what is required by the trustee and the members they represent in a manner satisfactory to the sponsoring employer. ”
“Excellent service - as expected and why PSGS was chosen.”
“So much more proactive than the previous company. On the ball - thinking in advance of things needing doing - very proactive.”
“These days, Boards need real expertise on tap (with excellent back-up) to cope with a constantly evolving and more regulated environment. PSGS is geared to delivering that.”
“I enjoy working with PSGS and we have a very positive relationship. I was new to pensions and found them very helpful.”
“It’s a pleasure working with key members of the PSGS team: their experience and leadership means that they know how to get the job done, working in partnership with fellow trustees, employers and advisers to achieve the best result for members.”
Consultation on the Association of Professional Pension Trustees (APPT) draft standards for professional trustees closed a short while ago. We all seem to be up for increasing professionalism and standards in the independent pension trustee world. I am, for sure. After all PSIT has been talking about it for years (I called for a code of conduct at the Professional Pensions Show back in 2011!) However, I want more than the APPT’s proposed standards offer.
Professional trustees have great responsibility and in many cases are well rewarded for this role, but it pains me when I hear a professional trustee say (as I did recently) that he “didn’t like people monitoring what he was doing” and “wanted more freedom”. Really? Are your scheme members best served by being some uncontrolled free spirit?
Evidence gives clients comfort and certainty – it also delivers better member outcomes
We sincerely hope the APPT’s proposed standards will have a positive impact – we fully support the ideals but it will be very difficult to test compliance against them. That’s probably why a ‘comply or explain’ approach is being suggested as an interim measure. However, where evidence is easy to provide we think it must be provided in the annual disclosures. A good example is providing evidence of adequate professional indemnity insurance.
Another example is how a professional pension trustee demonstrates they have in place ‘processes to maintain continuity of service and ensure peer review of key decisions where necessary’. Those professional trustees, like ourselves, who are on the Pensions Regulator’s register are already required to produce an annual assurance report that is externally audited. Any industry wide accreditation structure should use this as the base requirement so effort is not duplicated.
This annual AAF audit is another piece of hard evidence. As a minimum, it includes testing the following controls:
These are critical to a professional trustee committed to high standards of conduct. Fail on any of these points and you are not doing your job properly.
This is serious
Professional trustees must accept they need to raise their standards, or some (possibly bad) standards will be imposed on us. Look at history and we can see the actuarial profession worked out long ago that the idea of an uncontrolled free spirit would not serve the industry well. They introduced professional standards for quality and peer review and have improved standards ever since.
Personally, I wouldn’t be happy if we ended up with the complexity that comes with the actuarial professional standards, but we are a long way off being even half way close to them! And actuaries don’t have to cover the full range of issues professional trustees need to deal with....