“The team provide an excellent service with practical and commercial input that we have not found with anyone else.”
“Mark Fletcher - excellent independent trustee, personality and high standards.”
“The trustee training course covered a wide variety of subjects which gives a good basis for future discussion and decision making during trustee meetings.”
“PSGS was chosen because of their knowledge of the subject and awareness of our particular schemes.”
“We now have a very collaborative approach between trustees and employer.”
“Very happy with PSGS as an organisation and that opinion is derived from the performance of those that represent them.”
Over 60% of the schemes we work with say guaranteed minimum pension (GMP) equalisation is one of their top three challenges over the next couple of years. Across the industry in general, there’s been a ‘wait and see what others do’ approach to the issue. We’re definitely in the ‘it’s time to act’ camp.
PSGS’ Edwin Bruce-Gardner recently summed up a pension trustee’s perspective of GMP equalisation in three points:
We know this makes GMP equalisation feel a little scary to some pension trustee boards. To help make your journey smoother, here are a few tips from the PSGS team from GMP reconciliation and equalisation projects we’ve already completed.
Tip 1: you need expert project management
Your pension trustee board needs to focus on high level strategic principles and any red lines you need to draw, not get bogged down in technicalities. To achieve this, set up a sub-committee to deal with the detail – and make sure it is led by someone with both the technical knowledge needed to manage advisers effectively and project management expertise.
Tip 2: to manage the cost, you need to manage your advisers
Don’t get me wrong, advisers are critical to a successful GMP equalisation project. Just don’t leave the whole project to them, otherwise costs may run away. By using all the knowledge and expertise available to your trustee board (for example through your professional trustee, if you have one, or experienced scheme secretary) you can take care how and when you use advisers and keep fees contained.
You need joined-up working between the trustee board, scheme actuary, legal adviser and your pension administrator. Work through the pros and cons of alternative solutions with your advisers and find the best solution to minimise future administrative risks and complexity.
Tip 3: focus on hard numbers and the impact on members
Involve the pension scheme sponsor throughout the process to make consultation straightforward. We’ve found having employer nominated trustees on a board to be a significant benefit in a GMP equalisation project. By sharing the employer’s views, they can significantly speed up decision making, helping the trustee board find the ‘right’ road quickly.
Ensure members with protection don’t face tax issues by considering legal aspects early on. We also suggest batching members - the majority of cases will be straightforward and minor matters can be dealt with by your sub-committee, so the wider pension trustee board can concentrate on significant decisions.
Tip 4: member communication is crucial
Deliver a clear message to your scheme members, tailored with their specific pension information, so they can easily see the impact on their pension.
To be sure members receive that consistent message, task your experienced project manager (see tip 1) to deal with non-standard queries. Also set up the new payroll figures concurrently so pensioner members receive the revised amount you said in the letter they’d be getting in their very next pension payment.
If you’d like to learn more about how to work through a GMP project, take a look at our GMP equalisation case study. It shows how you can complete the project on time, highlight and resolve issues quickly and, potentially, make significant savings compared to the initial expected cost.
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