The new voluntary accreditation for professional pension trustees is a step forward, but more needs to be done.

The accreditation process checks that trustees are fit and proper, they have a minimum level of knowledge, put pension fund interests first and have the necessary soft skills. This has to be a positive step forward.

There’s been criticism that small trustee businesses will be pushed out of the market. Only the businesses that don’t want to demonstrate minimum professional standards, pay for professional indemnity insurance and maintain reasonable standards of governance will be pushed out. That’s not a bad thing.

So far so good, but we need to keep developing standards for professional trustees:

  • Accreditation must become compulsory.
  • The Award in Pension Trusteeship is a reasonable starting point for testing technical knowledge, but the standard needs to be driven upwards if this is not to become a box ticking exercise.
  • The accreditation process needs to operated by an independent body. We can’t have the pensions industry setting and monitoring standards for itself. We know that is ineffective in protecting the public interest.

The accreditation process is a good first nudge for professional pension trustees, but we need to keep nudging.