Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Middle-aged men dominate trustee boards

Here's an interesting, and unsurprising, bit of research. Trustee boards fail to reflect the diversity of either society or even their own schemes' membership. There really is no excuse for this. Thanks to TU campaigning occupational pensions are no longer largely the preserve of full-time male employees, although there is still work to be done. So why do the trustee boards of schemes not reflect this?

As member representation on trustee boards increases in the push for a proper 50/50 split, maybe unions who run trustee training courses ought to be making a conscious effort to ensure that trustees are genuinely representative of scheme membership.

Middle-aged men 'dominate' pension trustee boards 28 August 2007 15:00:

UK – Pension boards lack diversity and trustees are struggling to come to terms with the complexity of pension legislation, a new study has found.

In a survey of 157 trustees, consultant and actuary Hymans Robertson found the majority of UK company-sponsored pension schemes are government by men over the age of 50.

“The study found 82% of pension trustees in the UK are men; 60% are over the age of 50, while just over one in 10 (12%) of pension fund trustees are less than 40 years old,” the firm said today.

"The dominance of men over the age of 50 at the helm of company-sponsored pension schemes demonstrates one of the challenges companies face when engaging with younger employees and women to become more active in saving towards retirement,” according to Hymans Robertson.

Gail Paterson, partner at the firm, also commented: “Trustees who participated in the study highlighted the skills they regard as essential to the role – decision-making, communicating, organising – skills which men and women alike possess. Whilst older, more experienced people may be considered to have the edge in these areas, less experienced and younger workers should certainly see themselves as capable of taking on the role of trustee,” she added.

Moreover, the study found pension legislation is one of the major issues facing trustees,as some 53% of respondents said legislation was the biggest single challenge to trustees as is grappling the volume of pension legislation they have to deal with.

Other findings in the survey highlight trustees’ governance and funding issues are a likely source of conflict of interest for trustees, over what is right for the members and what is good for the company.

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