UK – The National Association of Pension Funds is to hold a conference for pension scheme trustees amid fears that the traditional trustee system in the UK is facing decline due to regulatory pressure.

“This conference has been designed specifically for pension scheme trustees, focusing on the importance of the trustee role and provides practical guidance and support in a climate that sees trustees playing an increasingly important and challenging role in pension scheme governance,” the NAPF said.

Speakers at the event – which takes place in London on September 30 - include Alan Pickering, chairman of the European Federation for Retirement Provision and a partner at Watson Wyatt. Pickering made news earlier this year by appearing to call into question the Anglo-Saxon system of trustees.

“Over the past few years we have become aware of a steady decline in the number of people willing to stand as trustees, and these new provisions in the Pensions_Bill seem likely to scare even more people away from the role,” said Kevin LeGrand, head of technical services at Mellon’s Human Resources & Investor Solutions arm.

“If this trend were to continue, it would not only be a blow to the effectiveness of occupational schemes, but would also undermine a central plank of the government’s strategy to encourage more member participation and control of schemes.”

He continued: “No one can quarrel with the need to ensure that trustees know what they are doing, but we need to create an environment in which lay trustees – who make such a major contribution to schemes – feel comfortable to operate.

“This means we need to recognise they are not, and never will be, pensions professionals. Effective training will therefore play a central role in the process, by giving these trustees confidence in their abilities to play their full part in running schemes effectively.”

Last week the Department of Work and Pensions issued a report that suggested trustees are failing to challenge investment consultants’ decisions.