I just noticed today the newly launched Association of Member Nominated Trustees is a not-for-profit organisation that supports member-nominated trustees, member-nominated directors and employee representatives of UK based pension schemes in the private and public sector.
Anything that improves the collective skills and knowledge of occupational pension scheme trustees is a good thing BUT why the introduction of pension trustee apartheid?
Trustees are trustees and the term “member nominated trustee” is a distinctive legislative term that refers to trustees elected by pension scheme members. Once elected though the member nominated trustees and employer nominated trustees including any professional trustee are all in the same boat. At an operational level their rights, duties and responsibilities are identical.
I wonder in determining who has a right to join this organisation have the founders really thought it through.
- in some schemes an employer nominated trustee (for example a company director) has offered themselves up for election as a member nominated trustee where nobody else was prepared for come forward to be appointed as a trustee to avoid the inconvenience of approaching the membership again and again to stand as trustees
- in other schemes independently minded employer nominated trustees (or even professional trustees) have put themselves forward as member nominated trustees to entrench their position as trustees so that they cannot be easily removed by an employer who objected to their views or actions
- in a third category of schemes there are “employer nominated trustees” who have been chosen by the employer specifically to represent some constituency of members. Such trustees are not member nominated trustees but on many boards of trustees the difference between such an individual and a true member nominated trustee is not even clearly understood
In other words the distinction between “member nominated” trustees and other trustees is not as straightforward as it appears to be at first glance. In addition it promulgates the myth that member nominated trustees in some way have a different responsibility from other trustees. The them and us mentality around the trustee board is thankfully something that has largely faded over the last decade and it is retrograde to insert such a distinction now where none exists in practice for many schemes.
However laudable the aims of this new organisation I hope they see sense and allow any trustee to join their association who wishes to.
Brian Spence is a founder of actuaries Spence & Partners Limited and a director of independent trustee Dalriada Trustees Limited. You can follow him at @briandspence or@PensionsEndgame on Twitter or link to him on LinkedIn.