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Trustee toolkit online learning

Go to the Trustee toolkit We provide a free online learning programme called the Trustee toolkit which you should complete, unless you arrange the equivalent learning. You must login or sign up to use the Trustee toolkit.

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Trustee knowledge and understanding

The Pensions Act 2004 states the obligations of trustees include:

  • ensuring that  a statement of investment principles is prepared and maintained for the scheme, and is reviewed at such intervals, and on such occasions, as may be prescribed and, if necessary, revised
  • having relevant knowledge and understanding.

The Pensions Act states that relevant knowledge and understanding means trustees:

  • must be conversant with:
    • the trust deed and rules of the scheme
    • any statement of investment principles
    • the statement of funding principles (defined benefit schemes only)
  • have knowledge and understanding of:
    • the law relating to pensions and trusts
    • the principles relating to:
      • the funding of occupational pension schemes
      • the investment of the assets of those schemes.

Training is an important feature of a well-run scheme. Trustee training should be planned and managed by doing a 'training needs' analysis (or training plan) and keeping a log of all training undertaken.

Scheme documents

You should have access to the following:

  • trust deed and rules
  • minutes of meetings
  • any scheme booklet
  • the annual report and accounts
  • any other relevant scheme documents, like the business plan.

If you’re a corporate trustee, you need to know the principal contents of your memoranda and articles of understanding. These should reflect the trust deed and rules of the scheme.

Trustee toolkit online learning

Go to the Trustee toolkit The module 'Introducing pension schemes' includes a tutorial related to important scheme documents. You can also download a guide explaining the most common documents from this module. You must login or sign up to use the Trustee toolkit.

Statement of investment principles

The statement of investment principles (SIP) must include your policy on:

  • choosing investments
  • the kinds of investments to be held, and the balance between different kinds of investment
  • risk, including how risk is to be measured and managed
  • the expected return on investments
  • cashing in investments
  • the extent, if at all, you take account of social, environmental or ethical considerations when taking investment decisions
  • using the rights (including voting rights) attached to investments if you have them.

Trustee toolkit online learning

Go to the Trustee toolkit The module 'An introduction to investment' covers investment in a pension scheme including setting an investment strategy, the statement of investment principles, types of asset and risk and reward. You must login or sign up to use the Trustee toolkit.

Statement of funding principles

As a trustee of a defined benefit scheme, you are responsible for the statement of funding principles.

The scheme funding provisions require you to:

  • prepare a statement of funding principles (the scheme’s first statement of funding principles must be prepared within 15 months of the effective date of the scheme’s first valuation - the effective date is the date used for calculating the assets and liabilities of the scheme).
  • review the statement of funding principles from time to time, and if necessary, revise it (within 15 months after the effective date of each actuarial valuation)
  • obtain regular actuarial valuations (at least once every three years) and reports (at least once a year)
  • put in place a recovery plan addressing any funding shortfall (within 15 months after the effective date of an actuarial valuation)
  • keep scheme members informed about their scheme's funding position by issuing regular summary funding statements.

Trustee toolkit online learning

Go to the Trustee toolkit The module 'DB recovery plans, contributions and funding principles' provides some further information on statements of funding principles. You must login or sign up to use the Trustee toolkit.

Conflicts of interest

Conflicts of interest can crop up from time to time, and as long as they are dealt with properly, there is often no reason to stop being a trustee. You must declare actual and potential conflicts of interest involving you, and persons connected to you (eg your spouse, or a company of which you are a director). You must make sure the other trustees know and take sensible steps to manage or remove the conflict. 

There are different conflicts of interest depending on whether you’re running a defined benefit or defined contribution scheme.

Trustee toolkit online learning

 Go to the Trustee toolkit The tutorial 'Conflicts of interest' in the module 'The trustee’s role' will tell you how important it is to be aware of any conflicts of interest, and how to resolve these conflicts. You must login or sign up to use the Trustee toolkit.

Trustee protection

It's important to know what protection you have as a trustee against liability for claims about your actions as a trustee, so check your trust document or speak to your fellow trustees to find out.

Look out for:

  • indemnity clauses
  • exoneration clauses
  • exemption clauses
  • references to insurance policies.

These are not included in all trust deed and rules.  Remember you're only protected by these clauses or policies if you've acted honestly and within the terms of the protection. And you continue to be responsible for all your decisions even after you’ve stopped being a trustee.

Trustee toolkit online learning

 Go to the Trustee toolkit The tutorial 'Trustee liabilities and protection' in the module 'The trustee’s role' will tell you more about the different protections that may be available to you. You must login or sign up to use the Trustee toolkit.

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