An overwhelming majority of company pension fund trustees feel the pressure they are under to be significantly on the increase, according to a new survey.
The survey, ‘Shedding New Light on the Responsibilities of Pension Fund Trusteeship’, was conducted during April by pension fund software vendor Euraplan. Of 6,120 questionnaires sent to pension fund trustees a total of 715 were completed and returned.
Roger Forder, chief executive of Euraplan, said: ‘The findings indicate that we are heading for a situation where pension funds may experience severe difficulties in complying with statutory legislation regarding the number and composition of their boards of trustees.
Many knowledgeable professionals within the pensions arena have for a long time said 'no one who truly understood the liabilities would ever become a trustee'. Now the trustees - honourable amateurs by comparison - appear to be getting the same message.
Only one-third of those who responded to the survey actually chose to volunteer for the task of trustee - the remainder inherited the position as part of their full-time company job. One-third said that a change in professional circumstances would likely to stop them being trustees.
Key findings of the survey include:
*65% of respondents said they considered the task of trusteeship a serious and challenging responsibility and found the associated obligations of the task worrying.
*64% said they considered the responsibilities weighing on them as a trustee to be increasing gradually. A total of 26% said they considered the responsibilities to be increasing significantly.
*50% said they agreed ‘wholeheartedly’ with the recommendation, contained in the Myners Report into institutional investment in the UK - published March 2001 - that, as in the US, pension fund trustees should be legally required to be familiar with the issues on which they make decisions, while 45% of respondents said they agreed with this recommendation to some extent.
*51% of respondents said they felt in need of additional trustee training or a refresher course in the subject.
*33% of respondents believe that the job of investment monitoring should be independently audited by the pension fund rather than left to the fund manager or the custodian.
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