IRELAND - Attain Consulting is tapping what it expects to be the next big growth market in pensions and investment consulting by launching a separate independent trustee business to assist Irish company pension schemes.

Called Trustee Principles, the independent trustee operation has been launched by John Feely, Maurice Whyms and Tara Flynn to plug what they consider to be a gap in the market for independent corporate pension trustees, at companies where employers might prefer to step back from direct involvement in pensions decisions.

"Trustee Principles is a response to employers who are looking for independence, expertise and experience on their trustee boards," said John Feely, director.

"Employers who act as trustees are facing growing conflicts between their roles, and the introduction of trustee training requirements in the coming months will further increase the time commitment involved," he continued.

In order to ensure there can be no claims of bias within decision-making towards either side of interested parties, the sister company Attain Consulting will not provide advice to pension schemes where Trustee Principles acts as a trustee.

The Irish pensions arena is still a largely untapped market in terms of independent trustee growth - unlike the UK market which has seen increasing calls over the last 4-5 years for trustees with no allegiances to any of the parties concerned.

However, the way has been opened for independent trustees to demonstrate their value in Ireland as there are growing regulatory and decision-making pressures on companies and individuals since the financial crisis began, according to Feely.

"Trustees are the linchpin in the oversight and management of pension schemes and are answerable, not only to the beneficiaries, but to the pensions regulator and the courts," said Feely.

"Successfully managing all of the above can be challenging and very time consuming. A professional trustee is in a position to oversee service providers and can achieve greater control over the costs of managing the pension scheme," he added.

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