Professional advisers should be reviewed periodically as part of a best practice governance approach. Ideally this takes place annually with a deeper-dive review every 3-5 years. Reviews take many forms and cover everything from operational excellence to straightforward value for money. They are a great way of validating the service you’re getting – outcomes underline a great service or highlight real or potential snags or issues.
Experience shows that small concerns are often the tip of the iceberg – review these soon to avoid a situation worsening and becoming unrecoverable.
Strategic considerations are often the start point for decision-making across Trustee and Corporate boards. When it comes to out-sourcing, in-sourcing, changing systems, de-risking or making a significant change like moving to a master trust, a clear strategy is clearly important. Indeed, a well thought out strategy can make the difference and produce a great outcome.
But this isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Getting a realistic balance across the sponsor’s objectives, HR considerations, and the Trustees’ needs can be challenging.
Our mantra ahead of any significant project is “do the right thing, do it right”. A correctly focused strategy helps to ensure the ‘right thing’ gets done and the best outcome is achieved.
Sourcing is all about selecting a preferred supplier who best meets the needs of the organisation. When considering a competitive tender exercise, it’s great to start with a good understanding of the whole market. Matching the vendors’ credentials to your needs should identify a great shortlist of potential providers. Access to intellectual capital speeds up this early step and saves considerable time and effort. The purchasing process can then progress with a focused tender request and purchasing T&Cs.
This process generally emerges from a strategic decision to change. Sometimes it’s just a desire to undertake a ‘full market review’ to get like-for-like scheme-specific comparisons. This often covers the pensions administrator, but can also include master trusts, actuaries, buy-in our buy-out providers, or any other professional adviser.
Interestingly, we find that foresight is probably the most valuable skill in the sourcing arena. Looking ahead to how a new provider might work is key as other may be other subtle changes to consider – and of course, there could be a migration project to work through.
“Implementation” covers the set up of the service with the preferred provider. This may be a replacement of the current incumbent (e.g. pensions administrator); or it may be a new provider, notably a buy-in out buy-out provider. Either way, a structured project following robust methods with a sound governance oversight is essential to a great outcome.
The implementation needs to be rigorous from outset to avoid time slippage. An close engagement with a quality outcome is essential to avoid a long list of snags that either delay the go-live, or they do go live and rarely get fixed.
In our experience, the most common root cause of issues in professional advisers is a poor implementation. The constant challenge is the quality~time continuum. In a trustee environment, quality tends to prevail but this still needs to be delivered in a timely manner. What’s the second most common root cause of issues?
This is just a snippet of what we can do. For more information on how we can help you get in touch