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Pension fund trustees knowledge launched - 07-02-2005
The Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority (Opra) have published revised documents on the topic of trustee knowledge and understanding.

Under the Pensions Act 2004, pension scheme trustees must have sufficient knowledge and understanding of the pensions and trust law to run their schemes properly. They should also be 'conversant' with their scheme documents.

Over the last six months, Opra has been working very closely with the pensions industry to establish and develop a checklist of the areas of knowledge that trustees are required to have. The draft lists, known as 'scope' documents, were first published on Opra's website in October 2004. Following industry feedback, the final revised scope documents are now available.

Learning for trustees

Opra intend these documents to form the basis for a draft syllabus and qualification for trustee training to be developed by the Financial Services Skills Council and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, although it will not be mandatory for trustees to take the qualification.

April Alexander, Opra director of education and communications has described access to good quality and affordable learning as being vital for trustees.

Opra is already working with training providers to ensure that trustees will be able to comply with the legal requirements on knowledge and understanding, which are due to come into force in April 2006.

Trustees' learning needs vary according to the size and type of the pension schemes they run, and we have just completed research into free online learning which would benefit trustees of small schemes with few resources.

Among a large random sample of trustees there was almost universal recognition that levels of expertise are not high enough and there is a very marked appetite for access to e-learning.

These knowledge and understanding requirements should give trustees the confidence they need to run their schemes and to challenge their advisers before they make decisions. It is important that advisers are also well-versed in the trustee knowledge and understanding requirements.

The scope documents may be published as an appendix to the draft code in March

Code of practice

The Pensions Regulator, which will replace Opra on 6 April 2005, will issue a code of practice on trustee knowledge and understanding in the autumn. The draft code of practice will be published for consultation in March and will set out how trustees can comply with the legislation. The scope documents compliment the code, and will be published alongside it.

Please use the Abeceder web link to view the final scope documents on Opra's website:
Pensions Trustees Knowledge Standard

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