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About The Guide for Pensions Trustees

Welcome to The Guide for Pension Trustees Online, a practical and reliable service for trustees, scheme managers and those responsible for pensions at companies. Note: Throughout the Guide, the word ‘trustee’ is taken to include directors of a company formed to act as trustee of an occupational pension scheme.  Also, references to the law that applies to the United Kingdom should be taken to include corresponding legislation in Northern Ireland.

GPT Online is the electronic version, with extra features, of the established print publication The Guide for Pension Trustees, published by Pendragon, UK. See the “Contact Us” page for more details. Full content of this online version is available only to purchasers of the print version.

GPT Online provides the essential knowledge that trustees and pensions personnel require to perform their role accurately, efficiently and lawfully. It helps trustees and companies deal with pensions procedures, run an efficient operation and keep their schemes safe. No prior knowledge is assumed. The Guide is designed to provide a solid grounding to boost confidence and lessen risk. It is also an ideal training aid, fully covering the syllabus for the Pensions Management Institute (PMI) Awards in Pension Trusteeship (Defined Benefit and Defined Contribution), and is PMI-recommended core reading for the examinations.


Content of GPT Online
GPT Online covers a wide range of pension subjects. To know and understand your own scheme is invaluable, but if this is your only pensions knowledge you may miss wider opportunities. The Guide is impartial. 

Technical subject matter fully covers the requirements for Trustee Knowledge and Understanding (see below), yet each page is designed to be easy and quick to read. Single subjects wherever possible are kept to single pages, and our aim has been to avoid ‘chucking the kitchen sink in’ when explaining details. 


Relevant Knowledge and Understanding
It is not yet mandatory for trustees to have to confirm formally their pensions knowledge by taking an examination and/or by having to complete compulsory development points. Currently, any training is voluntary. One day, a minimum level of training or development may become mandatory for trustees, reflecting the code of practice relating to trustees’ knowledge and understanding issued by The Pensions Regulator.

The Pensions Regulator is also currently developing its Twenty-First Century Trustee project to improve the expertise of pension scheme trustees, including a focus on higher standards expected from those who hold themselves out as professional trustees.

The Guide presumes that most (if not all) of the subjects it covers would almost certainly be included in any obligatory training requirement. The starting point for training is that legislation requires trustees to be ‘familiar with’ the issues covering all their responsibilities (akin to a new statutory duty relating to care). 

Appendix III in the Guide covers fully The Pensions Regulator’s Foundation Indicative Syllabus for Trustee Knowledge and Understanding. Every item of the syllabus is cross-referenced to specific paragraphs in the Guide. Appendix IV carries cross-references for the Pensions Management Institute’s Syllabus for Awards in Pension Trusteeship (Defined Benefit and Defined Contribution schemes). 

New and revised material is constantly added to the site, in order to ensure the information remains current and correct in the light of new developments, changes in the legal requirements, and evolving best practice. 


Format
The main information (large type, spanning the full width of the page) is supplemented by notes (smaller type, indented) which qualify the detail. Any references deemed unnecessary for the general reader have been left out. Unfortunately it has not been possible to eliminate abbreviations. These are explained in a list accessed via the Abbreviations tab at the bottom right of this screen. There are Appendices that include specimen Trustees’ Minutes, sample Trustee selection procedures, and helpful checklists showing where each point in the PMI’s Awards syllabus and the Regulator’s Indicative Syllabus is covered in the Guide.

This edition of The Guide contains an innovation. Readers will between them be involved in all types of scheme, which can be categorised in a number of different ways. One of the key distinctions is between Defined Benefit (DB) and Defined Contribution (DC) (or money purchase) schemes. The Guide addresses all variants, including hybrids, but many readers will be involved with either a DB or a DC scheme, and will need to know which issues affect their scheme(s), while not wishing to read through things that have no application to them in the process.

The Guide therefore now has colour coding of some text, to assist those readers. The text that has a green background applies to DB schemes only, while that with a pink background applies to DC only. The rest of the text applies to both types of scheme, or contains items that all readers will need to read, for example to provide an important comparison between scheme types. So, the way to approach the coloured sections is that, if your scheme has no DB element, you do not need to read the green sections; if it has no DC element, you do not need to read the pink sections. In either case, of course, you may nevertheless decide to read a section that has no direct effect on your scheme, from an interest perspective. 


Usage
The day-to-day operational information contained in GPT Online is the sort individual trustees and managers need to know in the wider context to keep their schemes safe from harm. Because GPT Online contains ‘tried and tested’ material already appreciated by many trustees and pension managers at the largest corporations ranging through to smaller operations, you can rely upon it as an invaluable learning resource and reference tool. To help with practical issues, each section ends with points for action that may need to be taken: ‘Some Do’s and Don’ts’. The Guide also includes practical suggestions on a variety of subjects including: the duties of the pension scheme secretary, administrator and company personnel; a business plan for trustees’ meetings; specimen minutes from trustee meetings; and material covering the selection of trustees. Further practical material is added regularly. Throughout, you will find extracts from The Pensions Ombudsman’s determinations, and case studies. Here the text has mainly been reproduced from the data bank of past decisions published in The Pensions Ombudsman’s document How to avoid the Pensions Ombudsman. The Guide will continue to report information and guidance issued by the UK regulatory authorities, in particular The Pensions Regulator. Further practical material is constantly being added as the GPT Online service develops in response to user requirements. 


How to use the Guide
First, find the subject you are looking for by clicking the relevant section in the Contents listing (tab at top left of screen). Sub-sections within each section are accessed via a list that appears on the left-hand side of your screen. Or, use the Search function. Topic coverage has been designed to contain the shortest of paragraphs, and single-sentence facts are deliberately provided. You can expect to find the essential information you need on a single subject very rapidly by using the Contents or Search facilities. GPT Online is easy to navigate and links take you instantly to useful references throughout the site and also to authoritative external sources of information. 

The numbered paragraphs in each sub-section supply the main information. Notes that supplement or qualify the detail appear in blue text under the paragraph to which they refer.

The term ‘trustee’
Throughout the Guide, the term ‘trustee’ means an individual appointed as a trustee of an occupational pension scheme. It should also be taken to mean ‘managers’ or ‘boards of managers’ in the case of those schemes having no individual trustee(s), and directors of a corporate trustee. (A ‘corporate trustee’ is a company the purpose of which is to act as a trustee of an occupational pension scheme. The directors of such a company are not classed as individual trustees.)

Who will benefit most from GPT Online?
  • Pension managers If you are looking for a single, reliable source of user-friendly material for your own reference and for your trustees, GPT Online and its companion loose-leaf publication provide the solution. The service is kept up-to-date throughout the year. It provides sound guidance on practical matters, and saves you the task of searching for current training and reading material for trustees.
  • Individual trustees Whether you are member-nominated or company-appointed, GPT Online is an easy-to-understand, reliable learning and reference source that takes you straight to the information you require to do your job. It will help you ensure correct procedures and compliance in order to safeguard yourself and your scheme. 
  • If you have responsibility for pensions at your company, GPT Online provides a straightforward, factual guide to help you understand and manage your pension responsibilities. Should you also have a union role to play in your company, your members will also expect you to have a basic understanding of pension matters. 
  • If you are an employer, GPT Online will provide you with, for example, rapid briefing on scheme-specific funding requirements, reporting pension costs in company accounts, Stakeholder Pensions, NEST and auto-enrolment, selection of trustees, role of the employer and powers under the rules. 
  • Finally, if you are sitting pension examinations, GPT Online will be invaluable to you as an essential fact-finder, reference source and revision aid. 

For all subscribers, the clear, practical advice contained in GPT Online is specially designed to help you achieve your objectives and make the burden of responsibility in the complex world of pensions easier to manage. 


Sources
The sources of information for confirming accuracy are wide. They include material issued to students, associates and fellows of the PMI, plus topical papers issued to PMI Trustee User Groups. 

The HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) Notes are used to confirm certain technical information. 

Rulings of The Pensions Ombudsman are reported. Also included in building the Guide’s contents are (i) guidance notes issued by HMRC, The Pensions Regulator and other statutory bodies, (ii) reports and papers published by the Financial Reporting Council, the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, the Association of Pension Lawyers, etc., and (iii) documents issued by many other professional bodies, particularly the Pensions Management Institute. 

The widest possible reference material is used to build GPT Online’s contents. Fundamental to the spirit of GPT Online are users’ comments, which help its content and relevance to be constantly improved. 


Who is responsible for GPT Online?
GPT Online is a product of Pendragon, see the "Contact Us" page for more details.









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