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Local Pension Boards still getting to grips with their role

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“Local Pension Boards (LPBs) are still getting to grips with their role following the legal framework that came into place on 1 April.” Says William Bourne, Director at City Noble, comments on Local Pension Boards.

“The 1 August deadline is upon us for LPBs to hold their first meeting. Most have spent it trying to work out if they should focus on reviewing decisions and only being involved to raise concerns or if they should be consultative bodies, inputting into decisions before they are made by Pension Committees. We would suggest this gives rise to an important decision which LPBs are going to have to make. Should they spend time reviewing the regular information and reports which are produced by Officers and service providers? Or should they focus their meetings on particular areas which need to be reviewed or could be improved?  With very few meetings per year for most funds, time spent together in person at Board meetings is going to be precious and will require clear focus and direction, not to mention a strong Chair to ensure the time is spent productively.

“It is too early to draw definitive conclusions as to how LPBs will play their part in the overall governance structure. There are some common experiences but equally there are considerable differences in how each LPB sees their remit and their role. One of the common experiences is the realisation that, even on a minimalist basis, it will require significant resource to maintain LPBs and that members require considerable breadth of knowledge. Training is high on the agenda of most boards and we have seen a growing trend in the number of Independent Chairs with specialist governance expertise being appointed who can take on some of the work of running an LPB. We believe there are many things a sufficiently resourced LPB can do to add value but the next challenge will be to define more clearly in practical terms where the dividing line between the LPBs and Pension Committees lies.”

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