“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. ”
“In any major corporate transaction, time is of the essence. PSGS's pragmatic commercial approach helped us manage the pensions aspects of our group re-structure to ensure a positive outcome for all parties. ”
“We now have a very collaborative approach between trustees and employer.”
“Excellent service - as expected and why PSGS was chosen.”
“The trustee training course covered a wide variety of subjects which gives a good basis for future discussion and decision making during trustee meetings.”
“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.”
I know I may be tempting fate, but I’ve been extremely impressed at how well pension administrators seem to have stepped up to the plate over the Covid-19 crisis. It couldn’t have come at a worse time for them as it was just at the point most scheme pension increases are processed. It must have been a huge operational challenge to get all the teams to work from home – after all, most business continuity plan (BCPs) hadn’t been designed around having a whole business homeworking.
Steaming through the to-do list
So far scheme administrators seem to be coping admirably. We’ve found, despite working from home, they still have a ‘can do’ attitude, are maintaining quality and aren’t using the situation as an excuse not to do something. They’ve been proactive in keeping in contact with us about what they’re doing to help pension scheme members, what revised cashflow requirements are and ensuring pensioners continue to receive their pension payments.
Some administrators are facing fewer pension member calls, emails and letters, meaning they have no issues with SLAs and are actually looking to do jobs that had been put on the back burner. In fact, for one our schemes, the pension administration team has delivered a record high number of retirement illustrations and transfer quotes on time, leading the HR Director to wonder “if this situation will make people think through their retirement plans and perhaps bring them forwards?”
I think we in the pension trustee world owe our scheme administrators a very big thank you on behalf of our members. It has always been a rather irritating fact that ‘no news is good news’ when it comes to pensions admin. Under the current circumstances, ‘no news’ is really very good news indeed.
The changing world
The Pensions Administration Standards Association (PASA) has produced helpful guidance for administrators - www.pasa-uk.com/covid-19/ - which made me realise this crisis has highlighted the benefits of fully online processes. Those pension administrators who had not, for example, already adopted online identity checks rather than requiring members to post their identity documents, have probably had to change very quickly to adapt to current circumstances.
A risk manager friend of mine said last week, “If someone had told us a few months ago we would need to get 1200 staff with home working capability in 3 weeks we would have laughed. Just goes to show with the right mindset and all hands on deck what can be achieved. It is funny how in the past there was always a view that for administration staff home working for more than the odd day here and there wasn’t workable. Perhaps industry will take a different view in the future now.”
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