Peel Ports Group creates own governance committee

Peel Ports Group launched its own pension governance committee two years ago to help oversee and support good governance for its stakeholder pension scheme.

Peel Ports Group

The committee holds quarterly meetings that include input from its pension scheme provider Aegon, as well as its consultancy Aon Hewitt.

There are regular items on the agenda that include ensuring the scheme is run effectively, investment management, administration and scheme performance.

It measures all elements of good governance against a score card. 

Amanda Willis, pensions manager at Peel Ports and a member of the governance committee, says: “When I came on board, I felt from an organisation’s point of view that the scheme should be well governed.

“It is not a trust-based scheme; however, we felt we wanted to put something in place to ensure members get a good service from their provider and from us as an employer. It was agreed to put the governance committee in place and it has gradually evolved.”

The committee has helped the organisation improve its scheme take-up, and managed to get previously non-enrolled employees to opt in at higher contribution rates. Of its 1,100 employees, 90% are in the scheme.

A number of changes have been made by the governance committee following the government pension reforms and the need to improve member communication following auto-enrolment.

During auto-enrolment, the committee decided to hold compulsory presentations for staff about what was happening to the scheme. In addition, it sent out newsletters and booklets and put up posters.

“We had to find a way to tell members that we made a decision to raise contribution rates, and tell all employees about auto-enrolment. Making presentations compulsory to attend was one of those decisions that was made by the committee.”

In January 2014, the organisation increased its matched contributions rates from between 3% and 6% of basic salary to between 3% and 10%.

Throughout 2014, the committee also reviewed the scheme’s annual management charge, which it agreed with Aegon to keep at a rate of 0.35%. It is currently assessing what it will offer members following the Budget changes that are due to come into effect from 6 April.

In the future, the committee, which has three members including Willis, a team member from HR and finance, will expand to six members.

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Willis adds: “Our governance committee makes sure what’s happening should be happening. Following the Budget announcement, we have looked at a number of things, including introducing another couple of default funds, allowing employees to take cash lump sums and income drawdown, but it is about making sure the committee communicates this correctly.

“But what will be important in the future is to get three employee representatives on board to allow the committee to have a wider view of the workforce, to help give confidence to all staff that their savings and contributions will be valuable at the end.”