Exley, who joined Barclays Capital as a senior consultant in March, was speaking in London at the second annual Pension Liability and Investment Strategies Conference hosted by Euromoney.
According to Exley, conflict between corporates and trustees often arises for the wrong reasons.
Changes in corporate attitudes are forcing trustees to reconsider investment policies, he said.
“Corporate management can often be frustrated by the pace of action that has gone ahead, and active company management may be new and treated with suspicion.”
He added that the main areas of conflict are often associated with legacy ideas, such as the idea that actuarial funding is the most important issue.
“At worst, legacy ideas such as the focus on actuarial funding inhibit progress. Ironically, the real potential areas of conflict are seldom raised,” Exley stated in his conclusion.
Other key speakers at the Conference included pensions minister Stephen Timms, Citigroup’s European asset management business head John Nestor, BP’s chief executive of pension fund trustees Dr Reg Hinkley, and Pension Protection Fund investment and finance director Partha Dasgupta.
Timms stated that in the past, “too many trustees were marginalised in the decision-making process”.
He called for them to play an increasingly significant and more “appropriate” role.
He also said they should have a more “rounded” and “comprehensive” knowledge of the financial system, especially regarding how it pertains to their respective pension schemes.
During a panel discussion chaired by Barclays Global Investors vice chairman Lindsay Tomlinson, BP’s Hinkley stated: “The challenges we are facing now are really quite profound and need some measured reaction.”
Hinkley told IPE that the changing regulatory context meant trustees faced “quite deep” risk related judgments and increasing pressure.
“Most trustees are very experienced, and committed to doing a good job for their members. They are having to cope with the change in context, and build greater knowledge and more time into this role,” he said.
Hinkley, however, did not feel that the pensions landscape was at a stage where the hiring of professional trustees would become a trend.
He explained that trustee boards might have one professional or perhaps take a more professional approach than in the past such as a different payment basis.
But he added: “One or two professionals on a board is a big step in itself.”