Fifty-six percent of U.K. corporate pension trustees and officials have taken actions to prepare for added responsibilities associated with a new British pension law, according to a survey by Mercer Human Resource Consulting. Under the Pensions Act of 2004, most of which will be in effect in April 2006, trustees are being asked to work "independently and robustly," said Gordon Clark, a principal at Mercer in London.
Pension trustees will also need to manage conflicts of interest such as trustees who also sit on their company's board and can view an issue as either a trustee, company director or a pension plan participant. Thirty-four percent of respondents have considered conflicts but do not see a need to change their trustee boards, while 8% have talked about the issue and documented an approach to managing conflicts.
The legislation places additional personal liability on the trustees, who will become more responsible for understanding the laws governing pensions as well as investment principles. The survey found 29% of respondents have discussed or implemented changes to the trustee board, and 29% have not yet considered the issue. Also, 39% of those polled are still discussing actions to address added responsibilities under the legislation; the remaining 5% have not yet considered the matter.
The survey of 130 pension officials and trustees was conducted in June and July.