Pension Managers: The Unsung Heroes of Pensions Management

1st February, 2024

  • But what is it that you do exactly? 

    With professional advisers in place and professional trustees on board, how hard can running a pension scheme actually be?  The benefits are there, the employer is paying in, the scheme hits its regulatory deadlines and bish, bash, bosh, your work here is done. Right? Ah, the questions that undermine my day-to-day working life.  After taking a deep breath and counting to five (a seemingly simple coping mechanism that belies its effectiveness – a familiar theme perhaps…), I explain that ensuring the efficient running of a pension scheme has been and continues to be increasingly complex for pension managers.

    I try to take it as a compliment that I manage to make my role as a pension manager look easy. Whilst the trustees might all be gliding around passing meeting packs to one another and making sure Mr and Mrs Smith sail off into the sunset with their lump sum, underneath the sheen of organisation and compliance lies a well-oiled machine, nay, juggernaut.

    And I am here to support and celebrate the pilots, captains, engineers, and coal shovelers of that industry. Of which I am one.  I spend my days finding the answers to sponsor’s questions, supporting in-house teams, ensuring that adviser advice is requested and delivered on time, and generally making sure that everyone has exactly what they need to get their pensions business done.

    Running a pension scheme: Dedication and team effort

    Running a pension scheme requires a high level of dedication and a great team effort.  On the surface trustee meetings take place, company decisions are taken, and the scheme continues.  However, it is due to the endeavours of the enthusiastic pension managers and hardworking teams behind the scenes applying knowledge, expertise and efficient management skills that the pensions ship sails on.

    Let’s take a look at an example. A trustee meeting. To the uninitiated, it might look like just getting some people in a room or round a virtual table to discuss an agenda. Your note taker pops some minutes and actions down to be circulated. At the end of the meeting, we go along our merry way, and it is business as usual, or…….

    1. Find a suitable date
      Usually 6 – 12 months in advance to accommodate the already busy lives of board members and advisers. It takes many people to keep this boat afloat and finding a space when they are all free can be a mammoth task.
    1. Agenda production
      Production is the right word when it comes to collating the thoughts, ideas, actions and opinions of the parties involved as well as any regulatory hoops needing negotiated.
    1. Meeting pack creation
      The agenda points now need to be expanded upon with preparatory papers to provide understanding and context. Collated from several stakeholders my job is to walk a fine balance between chasing and outright harassment. I also have the responsibility of preparing some of the meeting pack myself rounding out the pack with anything relevant from the last meeting, and pre-empting any future items that need planning too.
    1. Note taking
      Done during the meeting while on high alert to contribute when necessary.  I record actions and decisions to ensure all points are reliably recorded, as well as deciphering all the jargon and technicalities that pensions people love to use.
    1. Minutes
      Falling to me again is the task of sifting through my notes, written on the day in the thick of the action to formulate concise and reliable minutes of the meeting. The skill here lies in knowing what to include and what to omit to retain the integrity of the conversation.
    1. Action!
      The meetings are there to discuss and debate and ultimately to make decisions and take action for the scheme and its members where necessary. It is my job to ensure that after the heat of discussion momentum isn’t lost and action is taken.

    Phew! And we are done.

    Oh no wait. There is another one in 12 weeks’ time. And some sub committees to organise in between time and my own actions to be completed and was there some new legislation we need to take account of? Any regulations popping up any time before the next meeting?

    The horizon is still far off but navigating choppy waters to then pass into calmer seas is a challenge I relish, paddling alongside my colleagues and crew members.

    Mr and Mrs Smith are all set for their cruise? Excellent – happy sailing. 

    Looking for more information?

    Are you looking to streamline your pension scheme management or explore how our dedicated pension managers can support you? Contact us today to discuss your needs and embark on a smoother journey in the world of pension schemes!

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    • Published byAngela Stokes

      Angela is a lead in the Pensions Management team with experience of DB schemes with assets of over £1billion. She provides outsourced support for in-house pension teams and also acts as a scheme secretary to trustee boards. Angela is experienced in...

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