The impact could be sizeable, although could be somewhat delayed due to the inevitable COVID-19 restrictions.
The industry now has two accreditation regimes (PMI and APPT) to choose from, with the PMI recently announcing Michael Clark of CBC Pension Services as the first accredited trustee and the APPT offering provisional accreditation during lockdown for those unable to take the soft skills exam. In time, it is hoped the two organisations may yet combine forces.
Being able to demonstrate an accredited status will be valuable for professional trustees in a market where credibility is everything.
Whilst the accreditation regimes are designed to validate existing knowledge and skills for good trustees, it is undoubtedly an additional burden both in terms of study and reflection, and expense - as the quote demonstrates. The tests, especially the soft skills test, must be subjective to some extent. There are many who doubt the ability to apply one or two testing regimes to the huge variety of trusteeship roles actually out there.
Over time, I do expect accreditation to be expected by anyone appointing a professional trustee. Ensuring a baseline standard of trusteeship skill and knowledge is a worthy aim and should promote all important trust in the industry. It should reduce the risk of poor trusteeship of pension schemes. On the other hand, will a market requirement for accreditation risk creating a barrier to market entry? That could have consequences for the diversity of the those providing trusteeship services. This and the Pensions Regulator's approach to 21st Century Trusteeship are certainly a challenge to the operating model of many sole and small trustee practices, and I expect to see further market consolidation as accreditation becomes embedded.
The market is however thriving with more and more employers and schemes welcoming the additional expertise and efficiency a good professional trustee can bring. Given the difficult times in which we find ourselves, both are likely to be in high demand for some time to come.
Do let us know what you think.
‘You can’t just rock up to this exam’ Michael Clark of CBC Pension Services, first accredited trustee - quoted in an article by Sandra Wolf on Mallowstreet