Pension scheme trusteeship professionals posing for a picture

ITS A MATTER OF TRUST

ABOUT

Please choose the icon below to find out about the reasons for appointing an independent trustee, how we approach the role and a little more about our journey to the present day.

The simple answer is collaboratively, both in servicing our clients and managing our business.

A successfully run scheme will generally be the result of a real partnership between all stakeholders. The trustee relationship with the sponsoring employer is particularly important and we will always work with the sponsor to develop a realistic strategy for their scheme.

Mentoring lay trustees, to whatever degree necessary, is a key part of our role, as is providing leadership whether light touch or formally through to being the chair. That said, on any Trustee Board, we are just one of a number of trustees; dominating the Board is not what we do.

Running a pension scheme is a serious business, but we also think we’re good fun to work with. We’ll leave others to be the judge of that.

WHY ITS?

✓ Pension scheme trusteeship is an increasingly complex business which in our view should be treated as a professional discipline in its own right.

✓ Professional trusteeship is “our reason for being” and we therefore continue to invest significantly in being the best at this; and are not distracted, unlike some firms within our sector, by competing needs for time and resource.

✓ Our scale also offers a depth, breadth and resilience to service that smaller professional trustee firms and sole practitioner professional trustees struggle to match.

✓ Always scheme-specific – we take into account the needs of the scheme and sponsor using a flexible, pragmatic and partnering approach. This, in turn, will ensure we achieve an optimal balance between sharing knowledge and experience but being sensitive to the way things are currently done.

✓ Whole of market transparent approach provides clean, competitive sourcing – no deals or conflicts of interest. This will ensure we manage costs and advisor fees to budget, knowing when advice is and is not required.

✓ Strong, experienced support team with sound knowledge of regulatory requirements and constraints including future trends and developments for all scheme structures.

✓ We drive the agreed pension agenda. Our ability to choreograph the management of the pension scheme leads to focused advice. Our deep technical experience in areas such as actuarial, risk management, investment and legal gives us the ability to plot the best path for your scheme, using advisers in the most effective way.

✓ We are nimble in our approach. We are able to make decisions and implement actions quickly.

The reasons for appointing an independent trustee are many and varied, but typically will be one or more of:

  • Assisting the Trustee Board with increased governance demands
  • Working through complex scheme specific issues, particularly around the employer’s covenant
  • Managing conflicts of interest
  • A need to improve the Trustee Board effectiveness or relationship with the sponsor
  • Difficulty recruiting or retaining lay trustees
  • The employer does not want to commit time to a legacy scheme that’s not part of their future reward strategy
  • To bring in professionals in the field with years of relevant experience
  • And last but by no means least, to add an independent voice. This is especially important during periods of corporate change or uncertainty

Your pension scheme is a multi-million pound entity that (if Defined Benefit) impacts on your balance sheet. Our challenge is why wouldn’t your scheme gain from an independent trustee whose day job is trusteeship?

WHO DO YOU PROVIDE THESE SERVICES TO?

Generally speaking the power of appointment will lie with the sponsoring employer, so we are engaged by them.

The pension schemes where we act as an independent trustee range in asset size from £2m to £multi billion covering DB, DC and hybrid arrangements. We have several household names in our portfolio, but just as many that people won’t have heard of.

DOES AN INDEPENDENT TRUSTEE HAVE TO CHAIR THE BOARD?

Absolutely not.

All our team are happy to chair if required, but we sit on many more boards than we chair. Whatever our role, we will help ensure that the trustee agenda is focussed and business is kept moving.

ITS was founded on 11 December 1990 and has concentrated on undertaking independent professional trustee appointments ever since. Our Executive Chairman Chris Martin was one of our founding Directors

From the year 2000 we were wholly owned by the FTSE250 company Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group plc (“JLT”) but were operationally independent from them. To avoid conflicts of interest we would not take appointments where JLT provided services to the Trustee Board. On 1 April 2019 JLT was acquired by the Marsh & McLennan Group of companies (“MMC”), which includes Mercer. Consequently, ITS exited from the MMC Group with effect from 10 June 2019. ITS is now an independent business wholly owned by its Board of Directors.

Being an independent, professional trustee firm has always been central to the culture of our business and our change of ownership reinforces this ethos.

AWARDS

We were voted Independent Trustee of the Year at the Professional Pensions UK Pensions Awards for 4 consecutive years, a feat unprecedented in any of the award categories. We have also won that category four times in the FT Business Pensions & Investment Provider Awards.

Executive Chairman Chris Martin has been voted as Engaged Investor’s Independent Trustee of the Year and has also appeared in the 50 Most Influential People in Pensions list, both on multiple occasions.

 

The reasons for appointing ITS as a sole trustee are many and varied, but typically will be triggered when:

  • A scheme is mature and becomes a legacy issue
  • A scheme requires a specific project such as buy in/out, review of investment strategy to be conducted
  • It is difficult to devote sufficient management time to running the scheme
  • It is difficult to fill trustee posts
  • Costs need to be controlled
  • Conflicts of interest need to be avoided
  • Scheme governance needs to be improved

TESTIMONIALS

“We appointed ITS to the role of sole trustee for our 4 Defined Benefit schemes in 2017 having previously been part of a wider board structure. Since then the Company and the Trustee have worked in partnership to merge the schemes into two – one which is closed (to both future accrual and new joiners) and one which remains open. This has significantly improved all aspects of governance, operational, and investment efficiency.

“Since their appointment we have found ITS to be collaborative, pragmatic, highly effective and efficient. ITS’s role as sole trustee has been instrumental in helping significantly move the schemes forward in the achievement of our shared objectives. I would have no hesitation in recommending ITS to a scheme considering transition to a sole trusteeship appointment.”

Margaret Kaleher – Pensions Director, UK & Ireland, Atos

“ITS has been the sole trustee for our DC plan since its inception in 2014. We have developed and maintained an excellent working relationship over that time. We have found that ITS provides a proactive, balanced and pragmatic approach to trusteeship, understanding the purpose and culture of our business.”

Ben Hawley – Manager, Pensions, IHG