“I wanted to look at the effectiveness of our trustee board, so Gillian, our PSGS scheme secretary, provided their trustee self-assessment tool to help me gather thoughts and opinions from others on the board. The tool was extremely easy to use and asked all the right questions to help me collect the information I needed as Trustee Chair. It is a great example of the way PSGS shares knowledge with their clients and makes dealing with key governance issues easy. As well as enabling me to meet one of the Regulator’s 21st century trusteeship requirements, using the tool has flagged trustee training needs and ways we could improve trustee meetings further. ”
“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. ”
“I would recommend them to anyone - I have dealt with a number of other independent trustee firms and would rate PSGS as the best. We are very happy with Mark and the service we get.”
“In my experience, not all professional trustees are able to cope with tricky or potentially confrontational situations. I find PSGS has massive experience in getting involved, earning the respect of others and resolving such issues. They get stuck in – they are a first rate team.”
“The trustee training was a very well-paced overview which gave opportunity to explore ideas and question more deeply at key points.”
“PSGS offered the right support at very short notice, at reasonable cost, when we really needed it”
The work of a pension trustee never really stops. Even during the summer when the rest of the world seems to pause, at least for a few weeks, we always have something on the go - and one of those things has been reviewing scheme advisers. I don’t know whether it is the heat but, judging by the amount of tender requests we’ve had over the past couple of months, pension schemes and their sponsors seem to be reviewing their trustee boards this year too!
Driving pension scheme adviser performance and value for money is one of the key reasons a professional trustee is appointed to a pension scheme. I take this responsibility seriously and time and time again we find we can achieve improvements in costs and service for schemes and their members. It is about getting the right fit for the right price.
Saving a small scheme £50,000 a year
Here’s an example… I arranged a benchmarking and tender exercise for a client where the sponsor was directly paying considerable pension scheme adviser fees to one of the larger providers. There was no issue with the quality of their service, just the cost at a time when the scheme had become a legacy arrangement.
We know getting the scope of an adviser’s service right can make a big difference so we refined this as a first step. We then took what seems a fairly standard process - invitation to tender, interview, shortlist and site visits - but avoided the scatter gun approach used by so many.
Going to the whole market really doesn’t help anyone - you can get bogged down in responses and it makes it hard to see the wood for the trees. From the experience we have of the wider pensions advisory sphere, I knew there were three other advisers who would offer a quality proposition for a scheme of this size - so that’s who we invited to tender along with the incumbent.
The scheme had some historical issues the pension trustees needed to be confident would be managed well. A standard interview process can be quite artificial in giving the complete picture of an organisation and their proposed team. That’s where the site visit came in. We really pressed and probed the teams - smiling faces are always nice to see (especially as an ongoing professional relationship is key), but trustees don’t buy services on the basis of that, tidy offices and decent coffee.
We made our decision; which in this case involved a move away from the incumbent. Most importantly, the adviser we chose was better suited to a small legacy arrangement and had built up a good rapport with our co-trustees and the pension scheme sponsor in a short period of time. The bonus was the potential average fee saving of £50,000 a year.