Interviewing for a corporate pension trust role I was asked for my thoughts and concerns over the medium term – I found myself using an expression often used during relationship break downs – its not us, its them.

Most UK corporate defined benefit pension schemes are now closed to new members and the trustee role is one of supporting a defined membership.  At present most schemes have the willing support of their employer – often because the company’s senior management team have a vested interest in seeing the scheme continue.

My concern is (hopefully) a few years out.  By this time the company management team have no personal links with the scheme and the majority of employee members are retired. If longevity is under-estimated and the scheme needs additional funds from the employer there is a real risk that the management team, particularly if they are under pressure, may favour investing in the current business and existing staff over paying yet more money to a group of former employees who are all retired and have already had a good deal.

While this may not happen to the respected institution I was meeting my concern is that  when it happens somewhere, there will be mounting pressure on all businesses from investors and other stake holders to do the same.

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Written by John Small

John’s business career started in the technology sector working with ICL and Fujitsu before moving to International Finance where organisational change and development has been a constant theme.