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Trustee pension scheme remuneration on the rise

Pension schemes are now more likely to pay their trustees as the sector continues to professionalise its practices, according to Mercer’s annual trustee survey ­ – but trustees are still lacking job descriptions.

23 Dec 2008

By Melanie Stern

Fifty-nine per cent of UK schemes, an increase of 12% on 2007, were paying at least one trustee ­ signalling a shift in sentiment towards proving that trustees are independent.

Mercer added that it was still unusual for more than one to receive compensation for their efforts, though. Schemes managing £250m or more in assets were more likely to pay trustees. Mercer also found there had been an 11% increase in 2008 of pension schemes remunerating trustees “because they demanded it”, compared with 28% paying them in order to recruit and retain them, or in some cases to bring in someone with specific expertise.

One-third of schemes reported difficulty attracting individuals to their scheme as trustees.

Mercer thought this due to a perception that the role is too time-consuming and difficult with 65% of respondents citing this as the reason, followed by fear of personal liability with 13% of the vote.

“Numerous issues are pushing the industry towards independent trusteeship. Schemes are recognising that trustees should regard themselves as directors of multi-million pound businesses,” says Rachel Brougham, Mercer’s governance team principal. “The thorny issue of remuneration remains: it may be that trustees are becoming more demanding as their role becomes tougher.”

The survey also found that while 45% of pension schemes in the UK provided their trustees with job descriptions, 71% had no such guidance for their chair of trustees despite an increase legislative, regulatory and economic pressures on the operation of schemes that a written job description could help them navigate more effectively.

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