Aon has provided 10 tips for how pension scheme trustees can hold effective virtual meetings in light of more people working in isolation or from home for longer periods in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Aon’s advice comes after The Pensions Regulator on Thursday issued a statement on the coronavirus and what trustees need to consider consider, making clear it expected trustees to have a business continuity plan.
Susan Hoare, partner at Aon, said trustee meetings are a key part of business continuity for pension schemes, and need to happen.
“They are essential for enabling trustees to keep on top of matters and in ensuring that there remains appropriate governance and monitoring in a fast-changing situation,” she added.
“Deferring meetings for what could be an indefinite period is no way to run a pension scheme’s business. So, in the circumstances that we now find ourselves, we need to get used to meetings happening in a different way – but still as effectively as normal.”
She told IPE one of the key challenges for trustee meetings was the large number of people they typically involved, as having all these people – up to 20, for example – on a call would not be workable.
Aon said a challenge for chairs would be needing to consider which advisers need to be present on which call in order to minimise the number of voices, and to pause or check more regularly if there are any questions as they will be getting less feedback during the discussion.
The consultancy recommended that meetings be broken into “bite-sized chunks” of no more than one to two hours, and to hold meetings online, via web-based video conferencing once a week or month depending on the level of activity on the scheme and starting with the most strategically important or time-critical items.
Chairs may also need to be more explicit about “action points”, that is who is taking forward which actions and by when, and help those who are not familiar with using online meeting facilities.