Frequently Asked Questions

So you are a new trustee?

If you are a new trustee and wondering where is the best place to start planning for your role, we have assembled helpful information that will introduce you to the first six steps, which you should aim to achieve before your first trustee meeting with fellow trustees.

1) Seek a copy of various documents and establish your personal file to be called the Trustee Decisions Master File™. If you would like to know more information about this, please send your details to Trustee Decisions Limited by contacting us here.

(2) Arrange to get trustee training as soon as possible

Since 1 February, 2010, Trustees are required to receive training within six months of their appointment and at least every two years thereafter.

Where a person is already a trustee before the 1 February 2010, the training will have to be completed before 1 February 2012 and at least every two years thereafter.

This may be provided by a number of organisations as noted on the Pensions Authority website although you may also wish to consider availing of the Pensions Authority eLearning on-line tool.

You may also wish to ask the legal advisor to the Trustee Board if they can facilitate your requirement and/or seek trustee training from an appropriate organisation like the Irish Association of Pension Funds (IAPF).

The Irish Institute of Pension Managers (IIPM) also supports trustees by holding examinations leading to a Certificate of Essential Pensions Knowledge which provides formal recognition of pension’s knowledge and acts as a useful test of trustees’ knowledge.

(3) Setup a Meeting with Chair of Trustees

Arrange to meet the Chair of the Trustees to discuss any points arising from (1) above before your first trustee meeting.

(4) Research Pension Authority website

Familiarise yourself with useful trustee websites and especially the Pension Authority website which will become a trusted source of information. In addition you should take this opportunity to register to receive email alerts from the Pensions Board by submitting your details on-line.

Access the FREE “Trustee Handbook” as provided by the Pensions Authority which provides guidance for trustees on how to achieve compliance with the Pensions Act and other relevant legislation. The handbook also promotes good practice generally in relation to scheme administration.

“The handbook is an important tool to assist trustees in the effective discharge of their duties and responsibilities. The Disclosure of Information Regulations contain a requirement that specific reference be made in the annual report of each scheme as to whether the trustees of the scheme have access to the trustee handbook. The handbook is written as far as possible in non-technical language so that it is clearly understandable to all trustees” [Source: www.pensionsauthority.ie]. Access the FREE publication “So you’re a pension scheme trustee” from the Pensions Authority. This booklet gives concise guidance on trustees’ duties and responsibilities and includes helpful definitions.

Access the FREE publication “What do you know about your pension scheme?” from the Pensions Authority. This booklet provides an overview of the information which trustees and employers must provide in relation to occupational pension schemes.

(5) Legally record your appointment

Ask the Chair of the Trustees how your appointment is to be legally recorded? Typically, this will be by Deed of Amendment to a Declaration of Trust or by Deed of Appointment. In addition ascertain who is reporting this to the Pensions Board, for example, the legal advisor and put a copy of this into your Trustee Decisions Master File™.

As soon as you receive the papers for your first Trustee Meeting, examine the Agenda and make a note of any questions you would like to ask. Ensure you read the actuarial, administration and investment management reports in detail ahead of your meeting noting any queries which you would like to ask of the appropriate advisor.

(6) Network with other Trustees

Reach out to other trustees in your industry who are members of professional organisations, for example, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), Institute of Directors (IoD) or Chartered Association of Certified Accountants (ACCA), the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAI/ICAEW/ICAS), Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Ireland (ICPAI),  Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).

The IAPF also have a Trustee Network which is dedicated to bringing appointed trustees of occupational pension schemes together, to help them share their experiences. Regular information seminars are also hosted by the IAPF to support trustees.

So you are an existing trustee?

You may be a trustee of an occupational pension scheme for some time now and want a refresher on what your fiduciary duties are. Access the FREE publications ‘What the Pension Authority expects of trustees?‘ and ‘So you’re a pension Scheme trustee‘ or click here to request further information on this topic.

So what about trustee training?

Arrange to get trustee training as soon as possible. Since 1st February, 2010, trustees are required to receive training within six months of their appointment and at least every two years thereafter. Where a person is already a trustee before the 1 February 2010, the training will have to be completed before 1st February 2012 and at least every two years thereafter. This may be provided by a number of organisations as noted on the Pensions Authority website, although you may also wish to consider availing of the Pensions Authority eLearning on-line tool. You may also wish to ask the legal advisor to the Trustee Board if they can facilitate your requirement and/or seek trustee training from an appropriate organisation like the Irish Association of Pension Funds (IAPF). The IIPM also supports trustees by holding examinations leading to a Certificate of Essential Pensions Knowledge, which provides formal recognition of pension’s knowledge and acts as a useful test of trustees’ knowledge.

How can I meet other trustees?

Reach out to other trustees in your industry who are members of professional organisations, for example, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), Institute of Directors (IoD) or Chartered Association of Certified Accountants (ACCA), the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAI/ICAEW/ICAS), Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Ireland (ICPAI), Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).

 

The IAPF also have a Trustee Network which is dedicated to bringing appointed trustees of occupational pension schemes together, to help them share their experiences. Regular information seminars are also hosted by the IAPF to support trustees.

Who are the Pensions Authority?

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The Pensions Authority is a statutory body set up under the Pensions Act, 1990. The Authority regulates occupational pension schemes, trust RACs and Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs) in Ireland.

What is the The Pensions Authority?

The Pensions Authority is a statutory body set up under the Pensions Act, 1990. The Authority regulates occupational pension schemes, trust RACs and Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs) in Ireland. This is done as part of their statutory role to monitor and supervise the operation of the Pensions Act. The Authority also protects the interests of pension scheme members and encourages pension provision. The Authority provides advice to the Minister for Social Protection on pension matters generally. Under the Pensions Act, trustees have the main responsibility for the administration of funded occupational pension schemes and compliance with the requirements that apply to these schemes. Under the Act, the Authority has a responsibility to:

  • provide guidance for trustees on their duties and responsibilities in relation to scheme administration
  • issue codes of practice on specific aspects of trustees’ duties.

Trustee Handbook Publication

Access the FREE Trustee Handbook as provided by the Pensions Authority which provides guidance for trustees on how to achieve compliance with the Pensions Act and other relevant legislation. The handbook also promotes good practice generally in relation to scheme administration.

The handbook is an important tool to assist trustees in the effective discharge of their duties and responsibilities. The Disclosure of Information Regulations, contain a requirement that specific reference be made in the annual report of each scheme as to whether the trustees of the scheme have access to the trustee handbook. The handbook is written as far as possible in non-technical language so that it is clearly understandable to all trustees. [Source: www.pensionsauthority.ie].

 

Mission Statement of the Pensions Authority

“…to promote the security and protection of members of occupational pension schemes, trust RACs and contributors to Personal Retirement Savings Accounts, in accordance with the Pensions Act, to promote the development of efficient national pension structures, to promote a level of participation in the national pension system which enables all citizens to acquire an adequate retirement income and to provide information and authoritative guidance to relevant parties in support of pension security, structures and participation”.

For regular updates from the Pensions Authority, register your email on their website www.pensionsauthority.ie

What about the Pensions Ombudsman?

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The Pensions Ombudsman investigates complaints that allege maladministration by those responsible for the management of company pension schemes. The complaint may be against trustees, managers, employers, former employers and administrators.

The Pensions Ombudsman

The Pensions Ombudsman investigates disputes of fact or law with trustees or managers or employers concerning occupational pension schemes. You can find more information on this by clicking “What can the Pensions Ombudsman do for you?“.

The role of the Pensions Ombudsman is to investigate complaints of financial loss due to maladministration and disputes of fact or law in relation to occupational pension schemes and Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSA).

The Pensions Ombudsman is completely independent in the performance of these functions and acts an an impartial adjudicator. The Pensions Ombudsman is assisted by experienced and well qualified staff who have authority to act on his behalf, though the final decision on any complaint must be made by the Pensions Ombudsman himself. There is no charge for bringing a complaint or dispute to him.

The Pension Ombudsman Regulations, 2003 require that all occupational pension scheme trustees and PRSA providers put in place procedures for dealing with complaints and disputes that come under the jurisdiction of the Pensions Ombudsman.

The regulations do not prescribe in detail the requirements for such a procedure. It is therefore left to pension scheme trustees and PRSA providers to determine the details of their own internal disputes resolution (IDR) procedure.

PRSA providers are required to submit the details of their procedures for dealing with complaints and disputes, as part of the approval process, when they are submitting their products to the Pensions Board and to the Revenue Commissioners.

A FREE Guide to Disputes Resolution Procedures is available from the website www.pensionsombudsman.ie. The purpose of this booklet is to give some guidance to the trustees and administrators of occupational Pension Schemes on the requirements of the regulations and on appropriate structures for the internal resolution of complaints or disputes.

Note: The Pensions Ombudsman’s Office is subject to the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, 1997

The FOI Act establishes (i) a legal right for each person to access information held by public bodies (ii) a legal right for each person to have official information relating to him/herself amended where it is incomplete, incorrect or misleading and (iii) a legal right to obtain reasons for decisions affecting oneself.

The Pensions Ombudsman Office will acknowledge a request within two weeks and will respond within four weeks. Reasonable assistance will be given to persons to formulate their requests in such a way as to identify the particular record being sought. Requesters will be informed individually of their right to seek a review of any decision made under the Act.

FOI requests should be made in writing and, in order to avoid any possible confusion, should specify that the request is being made under the FOI Act. (Refer to www.pensionsombudsman.ie to view a sample information request letter). If there is a desired form in which the information should be provided, e.g. photocopy, computer diskette, this should be mentioned in the request. Requesters should give as much detail as possible in order to enable the record sought to be identified. If there is any difficulty in identifying the record required, the staff of the Office will be happy to assist in preparing the request.

A request for internal review must be made within four weeks of the initial decision. The Pensions Ombudsman Office must then complete the internal review within three weeks. Internal review must normally have been sought before a further appeal may be made. An official at a more senior level to that of the first deciding official conducts any review under the internal review procedures. In the normal course, decisions given by a public body at the review stage may become the subject of further review by the Information Commissioner.

Requests should be made, in writing, to Joe Dempsey, Pensions Ombudsman’s Office, 36, Upper Mount Street, Dublin 2.Tel: +353-1-6471652 Fax: +353-1-6769577 Email: info@pensionsombudsman.ie.

 

What happens if you have been named as a respondent?

In the event that you have been named as a respondent to a complaint or dispute referred to the Pensions Ombudsman, copies of the relevant documents have been, or will be, forwarded to you. These instructions will tell you what you should do in responding to the complaint or dispute, and what the procedure is for an investigation by the Pensions Ombudsman.

The Pensions Ombudsman has statutory powers permitting him to investigate and determine any matter that falls within his terms of reference. In some respects he has the same powers as a court of law (these powers are explained in more detail below). As a respondent, there are certain steps that you are required by law to take. You should therefore take the complaint or dispute and these instructions seriously, reading the instructions fully before responding.

If you do not respond, the Pensions Ombudsman may determine the matter which is the subject of the complaint or dispute without further notice to you. You will be bound by any order made by the Pensions Ombudsman. Such an order can be enforced by the Circuit Court, though you may appeal it to the High Court within 21 days of the making of an order.

 

Rights of Review and Appeal

The FOI Act provides for a right of review, and subsequently, of appeal, where you are not satisfied with the decision made. There is also a right of review and appeal where access has been deferred, or in relation to the level of fees charged, or in relation to the form in which the request is being met e.g. the requester wishes to have the information on computer diskette and the body decides instead to provide it by way of photocopy. Details of the review/appeal mechanism, in relation to the Office of the Pensions Ombudsman, are set out below.

One may seek an internal review of the initial decision, which will be carried out by an official at a higher level, if you are dissatisfied with the initial response received, i.e., refusal of request, form of access, charges, or have not received a reply within four weeks of your initial application (this is deemed to be a refusal of the request and allows you to proceed to internal review).

There is an ‘upfront’ fee for the processing of requests for non personal information and for fees for the time spent finding records and for any photocopying costs incurred in providing material requested. Regulations were made by the Minister for Finance prescribing fees for non personal FOI requests with effect from 7th July, 2003. Refer to www.pensionsombudsman.ie for further information.

 

Internal Dispute Resolution (IDR) procedure

Trustees of a pension scheme are obliged to have an internal dispute resolution procedure in place for certain types of complaints and are advised to keep updated their stated “procedure”.

Trustees

Ideally, the trustees should have an independent person available to them, to whom the task of making a judgement on a complaint or dispute can be given. The advantage of having an independent person is that it ensures that a complaint or dispute is not reviewed by somebody who has been involved in the subject matter of the disagreement in the past.

 

The independent person could be an outside professional, such as a lawyer, an accountant, an actuary or pension consultant who is not concerned in the matter under dispute.  The job of the independent person is to consider the details of the complaint or dispute and to suggest what might be done to solve the problem. However, it is important to note that the indepenedent person cannot change the decision of the trustees where the trustees have used their discretionary powers. In this situation the independent person must remit back the decision to the trustees for further consideration.

 

If the dispute or complaint involves someone other than the trustees, the independent person may make a recommendation, which the trustees can then forward to the party concerned, as a suggested solution to the problem. Implementation of any suggested solution implies that it must be accepted by all concerned

Members

Initially you should contact the person in your company that deals with the scheme. This may be a contact in your personnel or human resources department who can try and resolve your complaint on your behalf.
If you are unhappy with the response to your complaint you can contact the Trustee or Trustees of your scheme. Details of the trustee or trustees will be set out in the trustees annual report (produced annually) which you can request from your employer. You should note however that the trustees may refer your complaint back to the employer and/or administrator to resolve.
You may wish to contact the Registered Administrator of the occupational pension scheme directly. This may be an insurance company or a separate company that administers the scheme on behalf of your employer and the trustees. You can find out who the administrator is by asking your employer or getting a copy of the trustees annual report from your employer (as the administrator will be listed in this report).
If you fail to resolve your complaint with your employer or the administrator/trustees of the scheme, you can contact The Pensions Authority. The Authority can act on behalf of pension scheme members who are concerned about their schemes; it can investigate the state and conduct of occupational pension scheme; it has the power to prosecute for breaches of the Pensions Acts and to take court action against trustees for the protection of members and their rights.
You can also refer your case to The Pensions Ombudsman who investigates and decides complaints and disputes concerning occupational pension scheme. The Pensions Ombudsman is completely independent and acts as an impartial adjudicator.

What are some helpful websites for trustees?

The following alphabetical list contains information about helpful organisations and their website links which may be helpful to any Trustee that requires additional information about pensions and how to manage them succesfully.

 

Association of Pension Lawyers in Ireland (APLI)
The APLI is an association for lawyers and others involved in the practice of law relating to pensions and other employee benefits and related matters.

 

CFA Ireland
CFA Ireland is the Irish professional body for those engaged in investment analysis and portfolio management. CFA Ireland is a member society of the CFA Institute, which is based in the United States.  CFA Institute is an international, non-profit organization of more than 70,000 investment practitioners and educators in over 100 countries.

 

 

Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI)
The ESRI produces high–quality research that contributes to understanding economic and social change and that informs public policymaking and civil society in Ireland and throughout the European Union.

Engaged Investor
Engaged Investor is a magazine and website dedicated to helping pension fund trustees.

 

Equality Authority
The Equality Authority is an independent body set up under the Employment Equality Act 1998. It was established on 18th October 1999. The Equality Authority replaced the Employment Equality Agency, and has a greatly expanded role and functions. The Employment Equality Act, 1998 and the Equal Status Act, 2000 outlaw discrimination in employment, vocational training, advertising, collective agreements, the provision of goods and services and other opportunities to which the public generally have access on nine distinct grounds.

 

European Pensions
European Pensions provides readers with detailed analysis of the biggest pensions news stories to break across Europe, coupled with in-depth coverage of the most dynamic pensions and investment strategies at play.

 

European Union
General information on how the EU works, what it does and how the budget is spent. Find facts, figures, graphs, and slides on all aspects of the EU. Learn more about the treaties that lay down the ground rules for how the EU operates.

 

Financial Regulator
The Financial Regulator is responsible for the regulation of all financial services firms in Ireland.

 

International Organisation of Pension Supervisors (IOPS)
The International Organisation of Pension Supervisors (IOPS) is an independent international body representing those involved in the supervision of private pension arrangements. The organisation currently has around 60 members and observers representing approximately 50 countries and territories worldwide – from Australia to Zambia – covering all levels of economic development and bringing together all types of pension and supervisory systems.

 

Investment and Pensions Europe
IPE is the leading European publication for institutional investors and those running pension funds, and is published by IPE International Publishers Ltd, an independently owned company founded in July 1996.

 

Irish Association of Investment Managers (IAIM)
The Irish Association of Investment Managers, which was founded in 1986, is the representative body for institutional investment managers in Ireland and represents virtually the entire industry.

 

Irish Association of Pension Funds (IAPF)

Established in 1973, the Irish Association of Pension Funds (IAPF) represents  Irish pension savers. It’s members are responsible for some €91 billion (end 2013  figure) in retirement savings in Ireland.

 

For it’s members, the IAPF seeks to educate,  represent and inform with a view to achieving secure, fair and simple retirement provision.

 

Irish Institute of Pension Managers (IIPM)
The Irish Institute of Pensions Managers (IIPM) was established in 1989 to promote professional standards for those working in pensions.

 

Irish Taxation Institute (ITI)
Founded in 1967, the Irish Taxation Institute (ITI) is the leading professional body for taxation affairs in Ireland. Membership comprises of Registered Tax Consultants, accountants, barristers, solicitors and other business professionals.

 

National Association of Pensions Funds
The NAPF represent all types of scheme including defined benefit, defined contribution, group personal pensions and statutory schemes such as those in Local Government. Between them, our members provide retirement income to nearly 15 million people, operate almost 1,200 separate pension schemes and have combined assets of nearly Stg£800bn.

 

National Consumer Agency (NCA)
The National Consumer Agency (NCA) is a statutory body established by the Irish Government in May 2007. It aims to defend consumer interests and to embed a robust consumer culture in Ireland.

 

Pensions Authority (Irl)
The Pensions Authority is a statutory body set up under the Pensions Act, 1990 and regulates Occupational Pension Schemes, trust Retirement Annuity Contracts (RACs) and Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs) in Ireland. This is done as part of the Authority’s statutory role to monitor and supervise the operation of the Pensions Act. The Authority also protects the interests of pension scheme members and encourages pension provision. The Authority provides advice to the Minister for Social Protection on pension matters generally.

 

Pensions Insight
Pension Insight provides digests and analysis of pensions news and technical information. Our expert journalists review all the available sources of pensions news and technical information to provide concise digests and authoritative analysis articles.

 

Pensions Policy Institute (UK)
The PPI is an educational charity which provides non-political, independent comment and analysis on public policy on pensions and the provision of retirement income in the UK.  They publish regular research reports, briefing notes and hold policy seminars on a wide range of topics.

 

Pensions Management Institute (UK)

The PMI are the professional body which supports and develops the experts who run UK pension schemes. They have a membership of some 5,000 pensions professionals and trustees which includes many of the thought leaders who drive retirement provision in the UK.

 

Pensions Ombudsman (Irl)
The Pensions Ombudsman investigates and decides complaints and disputes from individuals about their occupational pension schemes, Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs) and Trust RACs where there is both maladministration and financial loss. He is completely independent and impartial.

 

Pensions Ombudsman (UK)
The Pensions Ombudsman investigates and decides complaints and disputes involving occupational pension schemes and Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs). The Pensions Ombudsman is completely independent and impartial.

 

Pensions Regulator UK
The Pensions Regulator is the UK regulator of work-based pension schemes.

 

Pensions Tracing Service (UK)
The Pension Tracing Service is part of the Pension, Disability and Carers Service (PDCS) which is an executive agency of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). It provides its customers with pensions, benefits and retirement information – for example, State Pension and Pension Credit.

 

PMI Trusteeweb (UK)
PMI Trusteeweb is a UK web site and is designed to help and support Trustee’s. It provides an arena to discuss issues of interest with fellow Trustees from schemes.

 

Professional Pensions
Professional Pensions delivers extensive news and features coverage for the corporate pensions and investment industry.

 

Public Service Pensions 
The  Public Service Pensions website covers the superannuation benefits of civil servants who are members of (1) the Superannuation Scheme for Established Civil Servants or (2) the Superannuation Scheme for Non-established State Employees. Note: It does not cover the separate superannuation schemes for members of the Judiciary, Ministers, Dáil Deputies or Senators.

 

Retirement Planning Council (RPC)
The RPC, founded in 1974, is a not-for-profit organisation with charitable status and supported by almost 250 private and semi-state bodies. The RPC develops and organises preparation for retirement providing life changing courses, creating awareness and offering information on the advantages and problems of retirement.

 

Society of Actuaries (SAI)
SAI is the professional body representing the actuarial profession in Ireland. The Society is dedicated to serving the public by fostering the highest standards of professionalism and competence in actuarial practice.

 

Society of Investment Analysts in Ireland (SIAI)
The Society of Investment Analysts in Ireland (SIAI) was founded in 1986 and is the Irish professional body for those engaged in investment analysis and portfolio management.

European Commission – DG Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union

European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA)

Insurance Europe

Pensions Europe

Chief Risk Officers (CRO) Forum

European Insurance Chief Finance Officers (CFO) Forum

Association of Mutual Insurers and Insurance Cooperatives in Europe (AMICE)

European Association of Paritarian Institutions (AEIP)

European Parliament – Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) Committee

European Banking Authority

European Securities and Markets Authority

Federation of European Accountants (FEE)

European Actuarial Academy

Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

What are some helpful reading material for trustees?

The following references may be helpful to trustees that want to read more into the subject of trusteeship for pension schemes.

Suggested Reading Material

  • Asset Governance (IAPF, 2003)
  • Custody Booklet (Craddock, 2004)
  • Introduction to Investment. Part One: The Purposeful Investor (O’Brien, 2002)
  • Introduction to Investment. Part Two: The Pension Fund Investor (O’Brien, 2003)
  • Introduction to Investment Part Three: Pension Fund Investment Management (O’Brien, 2003)
  • Investment Guidelines DB – Guidance on Compliance (IAPF, 2009)
  • Investment Guidelines DC – Guidance on Compliance (IAPF, 2010)
  • Investment Management Trustees Pocket Guide (NAPF, 1998)
  • Irish Pensions Law and Practice (Finucane, Buggy and Tighe, 2006)
  • Planning for Retirement Defined contribution (IAPF, 2008)
  • Trustee Governance (IAPF, 2003)
  • Trustee Handbook (Pension’s Board, 5th Edition)

Advanced Reading Material

  • Fiduciary Management (van Nunen, 2007)
  • Guide to Financial Markets (Levinson, 2006)
  • Guide to Investment Strategy (Stanyer, 2010)
  • Pensions and Retirement Income (Clark, Munnell and Orszag, 2006)
  • Pension Economics (Blake, 2006) Pension Finance (Blake, 2006)
  • Pension Fund Capitalism (Clark, 2000)
  • Pension Fund Excellence (Ambachtsheer and Don Ezra, 1998)
  • Pension Fund Governance (Evans, Orszag and Piggott, 2008)
  • Pension Fund Investment Law (Ellison, 2008)
  • Pensions Revenue Law & Practice, Finance Act 2010 (McLoughlin, 2010)
  • Planning for Retirement Defined contribution (IAPF, 2008)
  • The Art of Trusteeship (Widmer and Houchin, 2000)
  • The New Fiduciary Standard (Hatton, 2009)
  • The Pension Trustee’s Investment Guide (Ellison and Jolly, 2008)
  • The Pension Trustee’s Handbook (Ellison, 2008)

Journal Reading Material

Click here for a detailed list of pension journals for trustees.

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