Frequently Asked Questions
What does a Trustee do?
The main responsibilities of trustees are akin to those of non-executive directors of companies – to set and review the purpose and vision of the Board; to contribute to the development of the Board’s strategy; and to hold the Chief Executive and his staff to account for their performance. In addition, the regulatory framework requires the Board to take the final decision on the three-yearly valuations of the pension funds and similar issues.
As a Trustee of the Pensions Board you are both a pension trustee and a charitable trustee. The trustees work with the Executive Team to ensure that the best interests of the Board’s customers are met and, importantly, are secure.
Within the pensions operations, this includes considering and approving the assumptions underlying the actuarial valuations of the various schemes. The bulk of the charitable operations are related to the provision of retirement housing to the clergy.
How many trustees are there?
There are 20 members, with the Chairman appointed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York with the approval of Synod. The remaining members of the Board are either elected or appointed by the members and employers of the pension schemes, and other interested bodies. There are 20 members of the Board. We also co-opt people to join the Committees to supplement the expertise of elected members or bring specialist knowledge. There are no co-opted members of the Board.
Do I need to be an investment expert? And if not, what other skills are important?
In general, trustees do not need to be actuaries or investment experts, but you will need to be able to understand and discuss investment or actuarial issues.
To act as a pension trustee, you need to gain a certain level of knowledge set by the Pensions Regulator. The Regulator has devised an online study course (which is free to complete) which can give you the required standard.
Given that we provide retirement housing if required, to retired clergy, you will also need to develop some understanding of social or retirement housing/social housing finance.
Our work is complex; you therefore need to be able to assess and see through complicated and difficult issues, work constructively with a diverse group of trustees, and exercise a good degree of common sense.
We take diversity amongst the Board membership seriously and see wide ranging diversity at Board level as an important element in achieving our purpose, vision and values.
Currently, women, the minority and ethnic communities and disabled people are underrepresented within the Board’s membership. The Board would like to redress this.
Do I need to be a Christian/member of the Church of England?
No. There is no occupational requirement for this role, but we would expect our Trustees to have some sympathy with the work we do and our role in the Church of England.
How many times a year does the Board meet?
The Board meets four to five times each year, including a 24 hour overnight residential session. In addition, the majority of members serve on at least one of the four Committees. The Committees meet between four and eight times each year depending on the level of business; some committees also hold residential sessions.
What’s the time commitment if I am appointed?
The minimum time commitment required is around 10 days per annum, to allow adequate time to prepare for and attend meetings of the Board, and to undertake necessary training.
This can rise to around 18 to 20 days if you also sit on one committee, as most trustees do.
Do I get paid?
The role is non-executive and unpaid.
Travel and other expenses are paid within guidelines set for all staff and trustees of the National Church Institutions.
I have had financial difficulties in the past, can I still apply?
Maybe - Section 178 of the Charities Act 2011 and section 29(1) of the Pensions Act 1995 set out various statutory disqualifications.
If for example, you are an un-discharged bankrupt or entered into certain other voluntary agreements with creditors, you cannot apply; but do check the legislation or ask us if you are in doubt.