Professional Trustees – The Expendables

1st July, 2020

  • It was clearly only a matter of time before I cast myself as Sylvester Stallone in one of my themed blogs, although I did think it would probably be a Rocky theme.

    So, why the Expendables? Well, they are an elite team of professionals brought in to deal with challenging missions (not impossible – that’s another team).  When the mission is successfully completed, they sit back and await the next call.

    There is a common misconception that once you appoint a professional trustee it’s a permanent shift that can’t be reversed (think puppies are for life, not just for Christmas).  Whilst I firmly believe that when stakeholders see the benefit of professional trusteeship they will continue with it, they definitely don’t have to.

    The COVID-19 backdrop has created short-term challenging positions for sponsors and trustee boards.  The conflicts on boards may become debilitating (DRC deferral requests being a great example), management time is temporarily stretched, investment strategies are creaking and valuations will be more complicated than ever before.

    This is when a professional trustee can add the most value.  With the ability to manage the conflicts, reduce the need for management interaction with the pension scheme and bring experience of multiples schemes towards funding and investment discussions.

    The professional trustee can be appointed on a project basis to deal with a specific issue at hand and, when COVID-19 pressures subside (which we all hope they do), it is perfectly reasonable to revert to the status quo.  At which time, the Expendables move on to their next mission!

    I am seeing a ramp up in the idea of project based appointments to deal with challenging valuations, short-term conflicts and corporate restructures.  Whilst I very much hope the trustee boards on which I sit will view me as indispensable, if the need arises, I can become an EXPENDABLE. 

    Should you, or one of your clients, be interested in a project based trustee by all means get in touch.

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    • Published byChris Roberts

      Chris is a Director at Dalriada Trustees and a Professional Trustee who set up our Manchester office in June 2015.  Chris previously worked for two large benefit consultancies and as administration manager for a large in house pension scheme in...

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