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Tuesday, Oct 29th

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Independent trustee services

Independent trustee services

When the trustees board of a UK company's pension scheme finds the going just a little bit too much to handle then what should it do? Time surely to be thinking about the expertise which perhaps only independent trustee services can bring to bear to resolve any difficulties. And given how the pensions landscape is rapidly changing at the moment, it could turn out to be one of the best moves the trustees board makes all year!

Whether scheme member or employer, the world of pensions is a complicated business at the best of times. It can also be time consuming, too, with hurdles and pitfalls always ready to ensnare the unwary. Trustees certainly need to be on their toes. Otherwise the consequences could be disastrous, not only from a personal point of view, but also for the members of the pension scheme they are legally bound to protect. Perhaps that's why more and more schemes are turning to pensions professionals to provide expert advice and guidance.

There are independent trustees throughout the UK which deal with all sizes of pension scheme, from those run by small companies to the larger schemes operated by major public companies.

The range of services provided by such trustees covers the whole gamut of the pensions industry, from wind-up exercises to dispute resolution. Some firms are specialists in particular areas, whereas others operate as 'one-stop shops'.

Often trustees will only ever consider using the services of pensions professionals when the scheme they're managing slides into real difficulty, perhaps because the company has become insolvent, for example. In such a scenario, the Pensions Regulator becomes involved in the process, and the pension scheme's trustee board will have to decide whether they can handle the increased responsibilities or hand the extra work load over to a trustee company who have a real track record in aspects of the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) assessment process.

The first schemes were transferred to PPF in 2005. Since then, many companies have been successfully steered through the long and highly complex process by independent trustees. Some firms have specialist PPF teams that handle all aspects of the assessment process including administration and accounting.

Dealing with the PPF requires people with "experience and a clear understanding of its ever evolving processes".