Client feedback

Gillian and Curtis provide an excellent service to the trustees. They are approachable and possess a huge amount of knowledge. Everything appears to work smoothly which I am sure is due to the immense amount of work they do in the background to ensure all paperwork is available and up to date.
Ian Woods,
KGPT trustees
I learnt more than I expected to at the trustee training course. A good introduction to the trustee role.
Rob Hartley,
They deliver above expectation when the scheme has a particular challenge.
Ian Edwards,
Kat & Jason are very good at making it happen – they just take care of it.
Stephen Allaker ,
Bristol Myers-Squibb
Very happy with service.
Christine Morris,
Twyford Bathrooms
Expertise - independent - takes the strain off.
Kelly White,

What’s the formula for success in virtual trustee meetings?

When face-to-face meetings were impossible during the pandemic, pension trustee boards were quick to adapt and move their meetings online. Now, as boards are starting to plan face-to-face meetings once more, we can reflect on what worked well and some of the lasting benefits and lessons learned from our virtual experiences and consider what are the key ingredients of chairing successful online meetings.

We recently discussed this at a chair of trustees forum with Mercer. We asked, is there still a place for virtual meetings? Could they ever replicate the benefits of meeting and connecting with people face-to-face?

We all agreed the main benefit of virtual meetings is their convenience – they save travel time and expenses, they fit around a pension trustee’s busy schedule and can be a very useful alternative when a physical, in-person meeting isn’t feasible. Also, many trustees prefer the virtual format.

Interestingly, research from Vox EU comparing online with in-person meetings suggested online meetings are more efficient for smaller gatherings of 2 to 4 people, while in-person meetings are preferred for gatherings of 10 or more.

We’ve found there are times when in-person meetings are more appropriate. For example, when strategy or important or complex issues need to be discussed. Brainstorming and creativity are also easier in a group setting where people feel they have time to contribute and discuss ideas. When we’re together physically, we can read people’s body language and understand nuances in conversation that are easily missed online.

In the future, just as we are seeing more hybrid working, we expect a mixture of online and face-to-face pension trustee meetings. There are certainly lessons we’ve learnt about getting the online formula right that we wanted to share.

So, here are 10 top tips for chairing a successful virtual meeting:

  1. Send out the agenda and papers the week before the meeting forcing reading time – if they’re sent out earlier people may forget the detail.
  2. There’s science behind this thinking. Mercer highlights the ‘forgetting curve’ - a model devised by German psychologist Herman Ebbinghaus who wanted to understand more about why we forget things and how to prevent it. He found memories weaken over time, so sending papers any longer than three days out from the meeting could be counterproductive.

  3. The trustee chair or scheme secretary should manage everyone’s technology set up before the meeting to avoid “can you hear/see me?” delays at the start of the meeting. They should remind participants to stay muted while the chair or another speaker is talking to avoid background noise.
  4. The trustee chair needs to control the virtual room and manage trustees or pension scheme advisers who might be multi-tasking during the meeting. This is a common problem with virtual meetings as people can to a degree ‘hide’ behind their screen.
  5. It’s important to include agreed breaks in the agenda for participants to deal with other matters and have comfort breaks. A break every 45 minutes should be included in the agenda for around 15 minutes.
  6. Limit virtual meetings to 3 x 45 minutes plus breaks = 3 hours total. If more time is needed, reconvene after a lunch break.
  7. The scheme secretary should act as a helm to spot non-participants and inform the chair. They could act as a timekeeper too for each speaker and any discussions, although the virtual platform we use for our pension trustee meetings has a timer built-in so it’s easy to see if we’re running on time.
  8. Ask everyone for opinions on agenda items to be submitted in the private meeting chat. This should be drafted but only submitted on the word go by the chair. This helps keep people alert and avoids group think. Other functions, such as online polls and a whiteboard, can also be used for encouraging input and discussion too.
  9. To encourage all attendees to participate, try to involve everyone on the agenda so your trustees have an active role and aren’t just sat behind a screen listening and reading.
  10. With larger meetings, break-out sessions in subgroups to discuss specific matters can be a good option. After a break-out session, the meeting could reconvene with a spokesperson reporting back.
  11. Always incorporate a Q&A session at the end, so the trustees (and chair) have time to ask questions they may not have found a time to cover elsewhere during the meeting. This is also a useful tool for ensuring people pay attention throughout the virtual meeting!



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