Buses in busy traffic

It turns out that accreditation systems are like buses – you wait patiently for what seems like ages, and then two come along at once.

Many in the pensions industry were surprised by the Pensions Management Institute’s (PMI) announcement on 13 February that it has launched an accreditation system for professional pension trustees. This followed press reports on 11 February that the Association of Professional Pension Trustees (APPT) would be launching its accreditation programme in April. (This was originally planned for last summer.) Both of these programmes will follow the standards published by the Professional Trustee Standards Working Group in 2019.

The PMI’s accreditation will be open for applications from 24 February. The APPT has not yet confirmed the date from which it will accept applications, but the press has reported that this will be in April.

It would appear that professional trustees have a choice regarding the route to take to arrive at their destination. Should they apply for APPT accreditation or PMI accreditation? The difficulty at the moment is that we do not have full details for both choices.

To hold the PMI accreditation, professional trustees will have to pass an initial application, which includes:

  • Successfully completing the latest TPR trustee toolkit
  • Passing the PMI’s Level 3 Certificate in Pension Trusteeship, comprised of:
    • Unit 1 – the technical examination (commonly known as the Award in Trusteeship)
    • Unit 2 – a new “soft skills” examination
  • Complying with “fit and proper” requirements based on TPR’s master trust requirements
  • Passing a basic Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check
  • Providing proof of credible and relevant employment history within the industry for the past five years
  • Supplying references from two reputable figures within the industry, such as an existing accredited professional trustee, a pensions lawyer or a scheme actuary.

It will cost trustees £500 per year for the first three years, excluding examination fees. There is a discount for applicants who commit to the accreditation scheme for three years.

The introduction of an accreditation system is welcomed to maintain high standards for professional trustees, but it is disappointing that two accreditation routes have emerged at the point that cohesion would be beneficial. The lack of a universally accepted route means that employers appointing professional trustees, and savers reviewing their savings options, will need to evaluate both options.

Our “Omnibus Edition” of professional trustee accreditation routes will follow once we have more details from the APPT.