40% of professional DB pension trustees plan to step down within a year, study finds

A new study has suggested professional defined benefit (DB) pension schemes may be facing something of a “recruitment crisis” as two in five trustees plan to step down within a year.

The research, which comes from Charles Stanley Fiduciary Management, also found four in five trustees plan to step down within three years – and increase from three in five just one year ago.

It is said that, should this exodus intention bear true, pension schemes will find themselves with a “sudden gap in professional oversight”.

Overall, the average professional DB pension trustee expects to stand down in about 20 months.

The study also delved into the reasons behind why professional DB pension trustees plan to step down from their role. 28% said regulations are too burdensome. However, this is a significant reduction from the 56% who attributed their exit to this last year. 20% also said that reporting requirements are too onerous to keep up with.

An increased proportion of trustees are retiring (35%) or reaching the end of their tenure (27%), while 28% have struggled with the transition to remote work. This may raise the question for schemes

“The volatility of recent weeks has shone a spotlight on how vital expertise and experience are in the management of pension funds,” said Bob Campion, Senior Portfolio Manager, Charles Stanley Fiduciary Management, adding:

“Professional Trustees hold a critical position on the board as trusted and expert voices in deciding the best route for the scheme – from the collection of contributions, to the investment of assets, to the payments of benefits – which has only become more entrenched as the landscape for DB schemes gets more complex.

However, with a notable rise in the number of DB pension scheme trustees looking to step down from their tenure, pension schemes could swiftly find themselves in a sudden shortfall of professional oversight. It’s vital that the industry puts the work in now to find out what’s driving the move, and also try to attract and retain the required new influx of talent.”

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