Inclusion of universal professional trustees ‘long way off’ - TPR

Ensuring every trustee board has at least one professional trustee on it is a “long way off”, The Pensions Regulator (TPR) policy lead, Nick Gannon, has stated.

Speaking at the Association of Member Nominated Trustees' (AMNT) conference, and speaking in a personal capacity and not on behalf of TPR, Gannon stated: “There has been a lot of talk about making every trustee professional or making sure there is a professional on every board but I think we’re a long way from either of those being a solution.”

These comments came as Gannon discussed recognising the importance of the position of a trustee, stating that “it's not something that you just do in your spare time”.

Although, with this recognised level of importance, Gannon acknowledged that it does require an increased level of responsibility, stating that “you would expect a degree of expertise and a degree of professionalism” from an employer with a similar turnover to trustee boards and so this expectation should extend to the boards themselves.

Explaining his position, Gannon stated that one drawback to the idea of increased professional trustees would be that there is “not enough professionals to go round” and some schemes, therefore, would be left lacking.

Gannon also suggested that expecting everyone to be a professional “loses some of what makes a trustee special”, such as providing outsider knowledge and being “the voice of the member that adds value to the discussion”, adding: “I would really hate to lose that voice.”

Instead of emphasising the need for professional trustees, Gannon discussed the need for properly educated trustees as an alternative, and pointed to resources, such as TPR’s Trustee Toolkit, that could be used to for additional learning.

Gannon also called on trustees to demonstrate their importance to their employer or their sponsor to allow them to do their job better, saying: “How do we improve the importance, the relevance in the eye of the employer or the sponsor to the role of the trustee to make it clear, if you’re giving them trustee responsibility it’s a proper role that requires expertise, time and commitment."

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