Trusteeship explained: Training for trustees
Training for trustees is essential to enable them to fulfil their roles effectively
Since the Pensions Act 2004 was introduced, trustees have been required to take control of their own training. For the vast majority of trustees, the first place that they should go for training is The Pensions Regulator’s Trustee Toolkit, which provides an online guide to the topics addressed in the Trustee Knowledge and Understanding Code of Practice (TKU).
But while the Toolkit provides an essential overview of what is required of a trustee and should be a vital element of a new trustee’s training, it is the start rather than the end of a trustee’s training schedule.
Completing it will give trustees an overview of the topic areas they need to do their job well, but it’s dangerous to assume that it will equip them with everything they need to know for the ongoing requirements of their role.
There are plenty of other training opportunities available to get up to speed. Asset managers, consultants, specialist independent training advisers – and of course media organisations such as Engaged Investor – all deliver trustee-focused training.
As trustees become more experienced their training needs change. Longer-serving trustees have different requirements from new board members. Training can also be most effective when it is delivered “just in time” – so that trustees receive the information they need as they are about to use it. This is particularly useful for specific scenarios, such as planning de-risking activities, or dealing with a merger or acquisition.
The effectiveness of training is as much about the way in which it is delivered as the timing or the content. One common and pragmatic way of delivering training is to run a session either before or after trustee board meetings.
Trustees may also want to consider networking groups such as the Association of Member Nominated Trustees (www.amnt.org) and the TUC’s Trustee Network (http://tiny.cc/mmu5l). These enable trustees to share information at face-to-face events as well as building contacts with other schemes.
Many pensions bodies, such as the Pensions Management Institute (www.pensions-pmi.org.uk) and National Association of Pension Funds (www.napf.co.uk) offer some complementary sessions in addition to their paid-for courses. Investment managers and consultants will also provide training to their clients and potential clients. Literature provided by advisers is often a good way of keeping on top of changes in legislation, and recent cases being heard by The Pensions Regulator.
Of course, trustees may struggle to balance the demands of their day job with also being a trustee. A solution here may be for trustees to agree with their line managers that their trustee role is part of their performance objectives and is factored into their annual review.