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Press Release

Willis Towers Watson launches Good Governance Guide for UK pensions schemes

Pension Board and Trustee Consulting|Pensions Corporate Consulting|Pensions Risk Solutions
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June 22, 2021

Amongst five key governance themes, the Guide emphasises the role that IPTs can play in providing the expertise and resource required to achieve and maintain good governance

LONDON, June 22, 2021 – Willis Towers Watson has today announced the launch of its Good Governance Guide for pension schemes. The guide provides an analysis of TPR’s new combined Code, practical guidance on the steps pension schemes should take to make sure they are ready and compliant, and thoughts on the wider features of good governance for schemes.

TPR’s new combined Code is currently undergoing consultation and is expected to become law before the end of the year. It will cover defined benefit, defined contribution and public sector pension schemes.

Among the recommendations in the Guide is that schemes could consider the appointment of an Independent Professional Trustee (IPT) to help navigate the increasing complexity and risk involved in running a pension scheme.

The guide suggests that the experience and specialist knowledge held by IPTs can provide fresh insight and leadership for schemes. Indeed, recent research by Willis Towers Watson shows that nearly nine-in-10 schemes who have at least one IPT think that all schemes should employ one.*

The guide breaks down good pensions governance requirements into five core areas:

  1. 01

    Better Governance, Better Outcomes

    A reminder of this crucial premise and overview about the Pensions Regulator’s new combined Code and what this means for schemes.

  2. 02

    The right people in the right roles

    An overview of how schemes can meet the new combined Code’s requirements, set out by the Pensions Regulator, including when allocating the Code’s new roles.

  3. 03

    Where am I now, where do I want to be?

    Exploration of the key actions trustees need to take to prepare for the introduction of the new Code.

  4. 04

    Governance to support your strategy

    Practical suggestions on how to improve your outcomes further through your governance strategy

  5. 05

    An Inclusion and Diversity lens on decision making

    Inclusion and Diversity is essential to both the success of the plan sponsor and their pension scheme.

Governance is the glue that holds pension schemes together.”

Jenny Gibbons | Governance Lead

Jenny Gibbons, governance lead for Willis Towers Watson’s Retirement business, said: “Governance is the glue that holds pension schemes together and is tied intrinsically to effective decision making. It is the collection of structures practices and behaviours that facilitate good decisions.

“It is, therefore, not surprising that the Pensions Regulator has focused in recent years on improving the governance of schemes. With 100% of attendees to our recent webinar held with TPR agreeing that good governance leads to good outcomes, there is little doubt in the industry that getting this right is one of the fundamental building blocks needed to run a successful pensions scheme.”

“We believe that independent professional trustees can have a big part to play in achieving successful scheme governance. The complexity and time required to run a scheme has increased significantly in recent years and professional trustees have the specialist knowledge and resources available to manage these challenges. In addition, tougher new TPR powers and a hardening insurance market have made it more difficult for others, such as member-nominated or employee appointed trustees, to manage or mitigate both the real and perceived risks attached to the role, so an independent professional trustee can help here too.”

Nick Gannon, Policy Lead for The Pensions Regulator, said: “Good governance is about maintaining control, oversight, asking probing questions, and making sure that all is behaving as it should. Without good governance, the wheels can come off a pension scheme very quickly. We welcome any initiative from the industry that helps trustees understand the expectations we have set, and the effort needed to achieve these goals, which will have a big impact on schemes’ success in the long run.”

“TPR is pleased by the responses we have received to our consultation, which shows the industry is working to understand the new code before it comes into force. We will be responding to the consultation feedback in due course. In the meantime, governing bodies can still take steps to understand how any new requirements may apply to their scheme.”

Notes to editors

*Willis Towers Watson’s recent Trustee Governance Survey 2021 found that 88% of those schemes that have an Independent Professional Trustee asserting that all schemes should have one. The results excluded the views of IPTs themselves.

About Willis Towers Watson

Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ: WLTW) is a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company that helps clients around the world turn risk into a path for growth. With roots dating to 1828, Willis Towers Watson has 45,000 employees serving in more than 140 countries and markets. We design and deliver solutions that manage risk, optimise benefits, cultivate talent, and expand the power of capital to protect and strengthen institutions and individuals. Our unique perspective allows us to see the critical intersections between talent, assets and ideas — the dynamic formula that drives business performance. Together, we unlock potential.

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