UK - Radical changes are being made to Watson Wyatt's training programmes after trustees complained they faced a "skills gap".
The consultant surveyed more than 300 trustees from 115 funds worth approximately £165bn, on their attitudes towards the Myners Report, the investment decision-making process and the level of skills required to make these decisions effectively.
The study found that 71% of trustees – particularly those responsible for schemes worth £250m or less – believed they did not receive sufficient training to understand key investment issues or evaluate the investment advice their consultants provided.
Watson Wyatt said: “The finding that most trustees believe they are less than well prepared to make key investment decisions and question advisers is an indication that a deficit in effective training exists, and is therefore an area that needs to be addressed.
“To this end, we are redoubling our efforts to provide appropriate trustee training courses to reduce any skills gap, particularly among smaller funds, while simultaneously boosting confidence.”
Dunnett Shaw & Partners non-executive director Alan Herbert welcomed the move.
But he warned: “You can’t wave a magic wand and with a few training sessions develop adequate knowledge.
“It is built up over time. I entirely accept more trustee training on investment matters, but it is a gradual process and it just won’t happen – whereby they have full knowledge – overnight.”
BT Pension Scheme trustee Bill McClory warned that even if the quality of training improved, the investment skills gap would not be closed as many schemes simply could not afford to send their trustees to consultant-run training courses.
“If you have to pay £700 to £800 for a couple of days training and you have three or four trustees, that is a fair chunk of money and you have to ask yourself is this a cash cow for consultants?
“It seems to me that perhaps trustees have not been best served by those providing training when they charge significant sums of money,” he said.
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