Every year, PI speaks to independent trustees to find out what the biggest issues, challenges and successes have been over the past 12 months. In 2018, we were particularly keen to find out about three key areas: the future of DC, the future of DB and the importance of sustainable investment for all schemes.
Among some of the biggest challenges was the speed at which decisions are made. Professional trustees of both DB and DC schemes continue to be frustrated by slow processes, perhaps reflected by the quarterly nature of trustee meetings. However, there is some hope here, sole trusteeships and new technologies could help schemes become more agile. But good chairing and strong leadership on boards is critical to make this a possibility.
For trustees of DB schemes, funding and covenant strength continues to be a main worry. Hardly surprisingly as DB deficits have started to climb once more.
For DC trustees the biggest cause for concern remains member engagement – perhaps exacerbated by continued reports that members are drastically under-saving. The second highest priority was default design – reflecting the old adage that after contribution rates, investment strategy is the most important factor when it comes to making sure members have enough to retire on.
When it comes to sustainability – views were mixed. Everybody agrees that something needs to be done, but trustees reported a desire to get more information from advisers on this topic.