What we do

Independent trustee services to ongoing defined benefit schemes

At a time when sponsors of defined benefit pension schemes are facing enormous challenges, Open Trustees can help to relieve the pressure. Our independent trustee service is recognised as one of the best in the country.

We understand the issues facing trustees of defined benefit pension schemes, whether that is increasing deficits arising out of investment underperformance and improved longevity, the weakening of employer covenants or the requirement for trustees to have a minimum level of pensions knowledge and understanding.

These issues combined with a complex and ever-changing legislative backdrop mean that trustees are under constant pressure to improve governance and internal controls. The threat of personal liability when things go wrong has become a real concern for trustees, due to the need to carefully manage conflicts of interest, greater member awareness of pensions issues and a rise in coverage of pensions issues more generally by the media.

We are appointed to defined benefit schemes of all shapes and sizes including schemes where the employer is able to continue to support the scheme and schemes where the sponsoring employer is facing difficulties meeting its obligations to the scheme.

The appointment of an independent professional trustee to a defined benefit scheme can be invaluable. Open Trustees can help by:

  • Managing conflicts of interest in decision making
  • Improving the level of knowledge and understanding on the trustee board
  • Ensuring the scheme’s compliance with legislation in a cost effective way
  • Improving trustee decision making
  • Assisting with the review, appointment and monitoring of scheme advisers
  • Reducing the amount of management time and commitment required
  • Offering sensible, pragmatic and cost-effective solutions
  • Working closely with scheme advisers and challenging them where necessary
  • Overseeing the funding and investment strategy of the scheme
  • Dealing with issues arising in corporate transactions and restructurings
  • Reducing the risk of co-trustees being found personally liable for their actions
  • Encouraging employer and member confidence through our experience and impartiality

Discontinuance services

Open Trustees has extensive experience in managing closed or paid up schemes that are either no longer required as the sponsoring employer has decided to provide benefits in an alternative arrangement or where the schemes have become uneconomic or unaffordable for the sponsoring employer to sustain. Winding up a scheme can be highly complex and time consuming. Open Trustees can help by:

  • Planning the wind up
  • Triggering the wind up
  • Ensuring the scheme’s compliance with the regulatory requirements relating to winding up (including disclosure and record keeping requirements)
  • Collecting any statutory debts arising under section 75 of the Pensions Act 1995
  • Cleansing the scheme data and tracing members
  • Analysing and adjusting the scheme’s liabilities
  • Carrying out a member option exercise
  • Securing members’ benefits
  • Dealing with any residual surplus
  • Taking steps to protect co-trustees from any claims arising following the completion of the wind up

In September 2012 Open Trustees was appointed to the Pension Protection Fund’s trustee advisory panel. As such, we are highly experienced in managing schemes through an assessment period for the purposes of the Pension Protection Fund following the insolvency of a sponsoring employer.

Independent trustee services to defined contribution workplace pension schemes

In recent years there have been a number of significant changes to the legal and regulatory requirements for defined contribution pension schemes and there is increased scrutiny of such schemes by the Pensions Regulator.  As a consequence, the responsibilities of scheme trustees, management committees and scheme advisers have increased.

Open Trustees can help to ensure that trust based defined contribution schemes meet these ever changing legal and regulatory requirements, deliver value for money and maximise member outcomes.  Open Trustees can help by:

  • Designing a pensions governance programme which meets the needs of the sponsoring employer and members
  • Delivering high quality ongoing scheme governance through setting and monitoring clear objectives
  • Improving the level of trustee knowledge and understanding on the trustee board
  • Ensuring value for money for members through the annual assessment and reporting of members costs and charges
  • Implementing investment strategies which are in the members best interests and monitoring investment manager performance
  • Regularly assessing risk and taking appropriate and timely action
  • Working closely with scheme administrators and scheme providers to ensure excellent performance and service standards
  • Delivering effective and engaging member communications

Open Trustees also has significant experience in winding up trust based defined contribution schemes either where the sponsoring employer has put in place an alternative pensions arrangement for its employees or the sponsoring employer has suffered an insolvency event.

Trustee secretarial services

Trustees must be able to focus on the important matters. Our trustee secretarial services can help to relieve the administrative burden of managing a trustee board allowing the trustees to focus on discharging their duties effectively.

Our trustee secretarial services include:

  • Making arrangements and providing facilities for trustee and sub-committee meetings
  • Circulating agendas, meeting packs and documentation for meetings
  • Maintaining a formal record of meetings and decisions
  • Drafting and issuing member communications
  • Implementation of liability management exercises
  • Monitoring of compliance requirements
  • Project management

For further information relating to our trustee secretarial services or to discuss how Open Trustees can assist you, please feel free to get in touch with us.