UK Pension Regs Forcing Trustees to Hit the Books

September 5, 2006 ( - A UK survey of pension plan trustees found they have had to buckle down and study pension laws and rules and the exercise is taking them longer to carry out than before.

Baker Tilly, a UK business consulting firm, found the number of trustees who could get away with only putting in an hour per quarter studying plummeted to 2% from 64% a year ago, the Financial Times reported.  

One of the goals of the 2004 Pensions Act was to pressure pension trustees to get up to speed on the laws and regulations. In fact, earlier this year the pensions regulator identified the need to improve the governance of plans and the caliber of trustees among its most important goals over the next three to five years (See  UK Pensions Regulator Sets Three-Year Strategy ).

The poll found that the larger the plan the more studious its trustees. Seventeen percent of trustees of plans with 5,000 members or greater spend more than 10 hours per quarter gaining additional knowledge, compared to only 7% last year.

Only 4% of trustees of plans with less than 100 members spend a similar amount of time studying legislation, underscoring the regulator’s particular concern for the governance of smaller pension plans, the newspaper said.

The survey also revealed that trustees view advisors as their best source of information, indicated by 91% of trustees surveyed.

Trustees from 288 pension plans were surveyed.