IRELAND - Trustees have been warned they must still resolve thier own administration issues even though administrators are now separetely regulated by the Pensions Board.

In a presentation to the Irish Association of Pension Funds (IAPF) Trustee Forum last week, Brendan Kennedy, chief executive of the Pensions Board, said pension schemes depend on trustees so the Board is "well aware that if the trustees' job becomes unworkable, the system becomes unworkable".

He told attendees the Pensions Board therefore has to strike the right balance between ensuring trustees are effective in overseeing and investing the pension scheme with the obligations the regulator imposes on them. And while trustees are not expected to be pension professionals, "you cannot act as a trustee without certain basic knowledge of the Irish pension system".

Among an overview of the different areas of responsibility that a trustee holds, Kennedy said administration is an area "that does not get as much attention as you would expect".

He noted trustees needed to think "consciously and regularly" about the quality of administration, as he noted while there are good administrators "there are also a number of very poor ones". This could result in members not receiving benefits or information they are entitled too.

And Kennedy warned: "Although in the short-term trustees would not be liable for an error by their administrators, it is going to be harder to use this defence where there has been a history of poor administration, which the trustees have tolerated or ignored. I would like to see more trustees engage with administration, and, where necessary, replace their administrators."

In his presentation, Kennedy reminded trustees that administrators are now regulated as part of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2008, which he described as an important additional protection for trustees. (See earlier IPE article: Ireland to regulate 'poor' pensions admin)

"Where trustees believe that administrators are not doing their job, the Pensions Board would welcome them informing us. This does not remove the obligation on the trustees to resolve their own issues, but it will help the Pensions Board to improve standards," he added.

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