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Trustee Training

for Irish Occupational Pension Schemes

by Rubicon Investment Consulting


  • Role of Revenue
  • Types of schemes
  • Why use trusts?
  • Trust law

Role of Revenue

  • Occupational schemes need Revenue approval
  • Approved schemes attract significant tax benefits, including:
    • Contributions are free from tax
    • Scheme assets are allowed to grow free from income tax, capital gains tax and DIRT
    • At retirement, members can receive a tax-free lump sum

Main Types of Schemes

Defined Benefit

Amount of pension depends on salary and service

  • Salary = €100,000
  • Worked 40 years
  • Pension = 40/60*100,000 = €66,667 per annum

Defined Contribution

Amount of pension depends on amount saved while working

  • Saved €1,000,000
  • Pension = €1,000,000*4% = €40,000 per annum

Options on Retirement

Lump Sum


Pension for Life (Annuity)


Approved Retirement Fund (ARF/AMRF)

Why use Trusts?

  • Occupational schemes represent multiple members
  • Members are “beneficiaries” not “owners” of the assets
  • Trust law allows assets to be owned by someone other than beneficiaries
  • The Scheme’s assets are owned by the Trustees
  • The Employer cannot access the assets of the Scheme
  • Trustees have a fiduciary responsibility to look after the assets on behalf of the beneficiaries

Trust Law

  • Main principles of trust law:
    • Prudence
    • Care
    • Honesty
    • Good Faith
  • Trustees must execute the Trust and act in accordance with the Trust
  • Trustees must:
    • Act in the interests of the beneficiaries
    • Act fairly in balancing the interests of different beneficiaries
    • Not profit from the Trust

Role and Duties of Trustees

  • Trust deed & rules
  • Duties, powers and discretions
  • Trustee liability & protection
  • Delegation
  • Taking advice
  • Trustee meetings
  • Trustee decision-making
  • Confidentiality & conflicts
  • Scheme amendments
  • Member trusteeship

Trust Deed & Rules

  • Set out how the Trust is to be operated
    • How benefits are calculated
    • Who is eligible to join
    • What duties, powers and discretions the Trustees have
    • Who has balance of power between Trustees and Employer
    • Overrides all other scheme documents
  • Only over-ridden by legislation or court order
  • Should be amended to reflect changes in legislation

    Duties, Powers and Discretions

  • Duties are what the Trustees MUST do
    • Duty to invest funds
    • Duty to pay benefits
  • Powers are what the Trustees CAN do
    • Power to delegate tasks
    • Power to amend the scheme rules
  • Discretions are choices the Trustees may make
    • Decide who receives death benefits

Trustee Liability & Protection

  • Liability for loss caused by a breach of trust is personal
  • Not generally liable for breaches occurring prior to appointment or after resignation
  • Remain liable for own acts after resignation
  • Exoneration and indemnity clauses (employer, fund, trustee liability insurance)


  • Trusteeship is a personal appointment
  • Generally no delegation allowed
  • Pension trust deeds usually allow tasks to be delegated
  • Responsibility remains with Trustees
    • Ensure delegations valid
    • Take care in selection
    • Regularly monitor and supervise delegates

Taking Advice

  • Trustees must take advice where not expert
  • Third-party relationships should be formalised, including:
    • Investment managers and custodians
    • Scheme administrators
    • Consultants (benefits and investment)
    • Scheme actuary and legal advisors
    • Scheme auditor

Trustee Meetings

  • Appoint Chairman and Secretary
  • Decide on frequency and purpose
  • Send out in advance: notices, agenda, minutes and meeting papers
  • Agree rules for quorum, decision-making, signing of mandates, attendance by conference call/video link

Trustee Decision-Making

  • Trustees must:
    • Act in accordance with the Trust Deed and Rules
    • Act in the members’ best interests
    • Act fairly between competing interests
    • Take advice where not expert, e.g. investment of the scheme’s assets
  • Factors to take into account when exercising decisions:
    • gather information
    • consider terms of power
    • make a decision
    • record reason
    • record dissent

Confidentiality & Conflicts

  • Adoption of policy statement
  • Interests of members, beneficiaries, employers and co-trustees may conflict
  • Whistle-blowing

Scheme Amendments

  • In accordance with the Trust Deed and Rules
  • Check for restrictions
  • Check who has the power to exercise
  • Check who is affected
  • If in doubt take advice

Member Trusteeship

  • Legislative requirement under Pensions Act
  • Schemes with over 50 qualified members
  • Must allow member involvement in selection of Trustees
  • Engage with employer to meet obligation


  • Trustee duties
  • Statutory responsibilities
  • Main asset classes
  • Pooled funds
  • Investment framework, objectives & strategy
  • Appointment of investment managers
  • Communication with members

Trustee Duties

  • Invest in accordance with the powers vested in them under the trust deed
  • Subject to a duty of care (prudent person)
  • Requirement to obtain expert input

Statutory Responsibilities

  • “to provide for the proper investment of the resources of the scheme in accordance with regulations…and the rules of the scheme”
  • Regulations prescribe rules to be followed by trustees consistent with requirements of EU Directive (IORPS)

Investment Regulations 2006

  • Ensure the security, quality, liquidity and profitability of the portfolio…having regard to the nature and duration of the expected liabilities of the scheme
  • Similar to trust law obligation
  • Invest predominantly in regulated markets
  • Assets must be properly diversified
  • Investment in derivatives only allowed if it reduces risk or contributes to efficient portfolio management
  • Prohibition on borrowing
  • Exemption for one member arrangements only

Statement of Investment Policy & Principles (SIPPs)

  • Applies to all schemes other than “small schemes”
  • Trustees must prepare and maintain SIPP
  • SIPP must include:
    • investment objectives
    • investment risk measurement methods
    • risk management processes to be used
    • strategic asset allocation with respect to nature/duration of liabilities
  • Trustees must review SIPP at least every 3 years, also must revise if change

Main Asset Classes

  • Equities
  • Bonds
  • Property
  • Cash
  • “Alternatives” including:
    • Forestry
    • Hedge funds
    • Venture capital


  • Company shares
  • Income – share of profits
  • Capital growth – no capital guarantee
  • Capital value highly volatile
  • Have given best long-term return
  • Offer protection against inflation


  • Issued by governments or companies
  • Fixed income stream – paid annually
  • Capital guarantee – repaid at maturity
  • No inflation protection
  • Unless index-linked – less common
  • Value changes with interest rate expectations – similar to annuity costs

Relationship between Bond Prices and Interest Rates


  • Commercial rather than residential
  • Income in form of rent
  • No capital guarantee
  • Expectation of returns above inflation
  • Relatively Illiquid
  • Not a regulated market


  • Similar to placing money on deposit
  • Capital guarantee
  • Returns depend on interest rates
  • No inflation protection

Characteristics of Main Asset Classes

Asset Class Capital Value Return Type Long Term Returns
Equities Very Volatile Real returns High
Bonds Somewhat Volatile Nominal returns Moderate
Property Moderately Volatile Real returns High
Cash Stable Nominal returns Poor

Pooled Funds

  • Investors desire diversification and reasonable costs
  • Not possible for smaller investors on a one-by-one basis
  • Pooling the resources of many small investors creates a fund with sufficient critical mass to avail of many advantages not available to the individual investor
    • diversification
    • reduced costs
    • minimal administration
  • Investor owns “units” in the fund, rather than directly owning the underlying assets

Investment Framework

Set investment objectives

Decide on investment structure

Monitor performance

Select investment managers

Investment Objectives - Defined Contribution

  • Achieve good real rates of return
  • With an acceptable level of “risk”
  • Offer appropriate choices to members considering member-specific needs:
    • Time to retirement
    • Risk appetite
    • Nature of retirement benefits

Investment Objectives – Defined Benefit

  • Achieve good real rates of return
  • With an acceptable level of “risk”
  • Link to funding objectives
    • Stable contributions
    • Stable funding level
    • Minimise contributions

Investment Strategy – Defined Benefit

  • Consider scheme’s liability profile and solvency position
  • Derive strategy by balancing the different objectives
  • Find balance between risk and return that the trustees and employer are comfortable with
  • Asset liability modelling is a useful tool

Risk/Return Trade-Off

Potential for great returns,

but an unacceptable level of risk!

Risks for Individual Members

Risk When Suitable Investment
Inflation Risk Long time to go to retirement or planning to invest in ARF Equities / Property
Market Risk Close to retirement (funding for lump sum) Cash
Interest Rate Risk Close to retirement (funding for pension) Long bonds

The Impact of Inflation

The Impact of Inflation

Member Choice and Trustee Indemnity


  • If Scheme rules allow member investment choice, AND
  • Trustees offer members a choice of funds, AND
  • Trustees have a default option in place, AND
  • Trustees provide sufficient information to members to enable them to make informed decisions,


  • Trustees will be exempt from any liability for the consequences of the members’ investment decisions.

Range of Fund Options

  • Equity fund
  • Long bond fund
  • Cash fund

  • Managed fund

  • “Lifestyle” strategy

  • Default investment strategy
    • Consensus
    • Lifestyle

Asset Allocation with Consensus

Asset Allocation with Lifestyling

Impact on Benefits

Two members, same scheme, identical saving histories1 retire a year apart. Assume both take the same tax-free cash lump sum of €75,000. The remainder is used to buy an annuity(per annum)2 of:

Jim retires Difference Paul retires
1-10-2007 1 year 1-10-2008
Consensus €8,900 €3,600 €5,300
Lifestyle €6,760 €80 €6,840
  1. Ten years prior to retirement each had an accumulated fund value of €100,000, and paid a further €5,000 per annum over the next ten years.
  2. Annuity rates are based on a 65 year old male, with 5 year guarantee, 50% SPDIR, 3% p.a. increases.

Appointment of Investment Managers

  • Trustees must appoint an external investment manager, unless they have the expertise themselves
  • Investment manager appointments should be reviewed every three years
  • May appoint one or several investment managers
  • Choose Active and/or Passive investment managers

Active Investment Management

  • Aims to outperform market average
  • Risk of underperformance
  • Greater volatility
  • Key skills:
    • effective research capabilities
    • stock selection skills

Passive Investment Management

  • Aims to match a specific index return
  • Minimises risk of underperforming the benchmark
  • Reduces Manager Selection Risk
  • Key skills:
    • technical capabilities
    • efficient management of cash flows

Communication with Members

  • Scheme booklet
  • Separate investment leaflet
  • Performance updates
  • Regular investment analysis / commentary
  • Updates on market-specific events
  • Investment presentations
  • Face-to-face investment advice
  • Web tools/E-learning
  • Smartphone apps

Trustees Role in Education

  • Indemnity only applies if Trustees provide sufficient information to members to enable them to make informed decisions
  • What constitutes “sufficient information”?
  • Consider how to engage members’ interest
  • Focus on investment principles rather than fund/manager information
  • Effective communication enhances member satisfaction

Scheme Financing

  • Role of actuary
  • Actuarial valuation
  • Funding standard
  • Scheme solvency & wind-ups
  • Mergers & acquisitions

Role of the Actuary

Defined benefit:

  • Statutory requirement
  • Actuarial valuation to determine contribution rate – usually every three years
  • Statutory funding certificate – every three years
  • Transfer values – when members leave the scheme

Actuarial Valuation

Future service cost
annual cost of providing benefits for future years of service
Past service surplus / deficit
value of assets less present value of liabilities for past years of service
Recommended contribution rate
future service cost plus adjustment for past service surplus / deficit

Actuarial Valuation - Calculation of Liabilities

For each active member

Past Service
× Pensionable
× Cost of Pension
at age 65
× Salary Inflation
Investment Return
× Probability of

For each deferred member

× Cost of Pension
at age 65
× Revaluation
Investment Return
× Probability of

For each pensioner

× Cost of Pension
at current age
× Pension Inflation
Investment Return
× Probability of

Actuarial Valuation – Sample Balance Sheet

Liabilities €m Assets €m
Actives 12.3 Investments 11.6
Pensioners 1.6 Balancing Item
(e.g. deficit/future contributions)
Deferreds 7.4
Creditors 0.2
Total 21.5 Total 21.5

Actuarial Valuation

  • Also includes investigation of:
    • statutory minimum funding position
    • funding position in the event of the scheme winding up
  • Other purposes:
    • accounting figures (FRS17 / FAS87, IAS19)
    • changes in benefits
    • merger/acquisition
    • wind-up

Funding Standard

  • Valuation based on notional wind-up of scheme
    • Cost of purchasing annuities for pensioners
    • Cost of transfer values for active and deferred members
  • Compared with current value of assets
  • If value of assets is less than value of liabilities, then the Scheme fails to meet the Funding Standard
  • Required every 3 years

Funding Proposal

  • Required if the scheme does not satisfy the funding standard
  • Designed to ensure that the scheme could reasonably be expected to meet the funding standard by the date of the next actuarial funding certificate
  • Signed by the trustees and the employer and certified by the actuary
  • Normal – 3 years
  • Extension – up to 10 years
  • Annual actuarial statements

Scheme Solvency & Wind-ups

  • Wind-ups usually triggered by employer insolvency or withdrawal of employer support for scheme
  • May run a “closed scheme” rather than winding up – may be more beneficial to members
  • Priority similar to funding standard
  • May only enhance benefits if funds left over

Mergers & Acquisitions

  • Ensure all members treated fairly & equitably
  • Accrued benefits protected under legislation
  • Future structure depends on employer
  • Need to ensure adequacy of transfer values
  • May have different funding levels
  • Need to protect members interests
  • Consider impact on liability profile


  • Record keeping
  • Payment of benefits
  • Payment of contributions
  • Scheme accounts
  • Preserved benefits
  • Registration of schemes
  • Payment of fees

Record Keeping

  • Record:
    • details of members (including contract/part timers/temporary absence/secondment)
    • contributions paid (normal and AVC)
  • Ensure records kept up to date
  • Ensure all eligible members join
  • Keep minutes of meetings

Record Keeping

  • Must be comprehensive
  • In particular:
    • Transfers in
    • Member with preserved benefits
    • Pensioners
  • Update at least annually
  • Reconcile membership, contributions paid and invested

Payment of Benefits

  • Payment of benefit is trustees’ responsibility
  • Benefits calculated in accordance with rules
  • Watch out for Pension Adjustment Orders
  • Before retirement - options
  • Payment of pensions
  • Death benefits
  • Deferred benefits

Payment of Contributions

  • Payment of contributions
  • Timing of payment
    • To the Trustees: Employees – 21 days, DC Employers – 21 days
    • To the Investment Manager – 31 days
  • Receipt – show on payslip

Scheme Accounts

  • Audited Accounts required (>100 members)
  • Disclosure requirements
  • Must be signed within 9 months
  • Issued to Unions, notified to members
  • Normally produced by the Registered Administrator
  • Trustees must arrange and pay for Audit

Preserved Benefits

Member entitled to immediate vested rights, after 2 years in the plan

  • includes years transferred from another plan
  • for pension benefits only
  • means cannot refund to employer or employee
  • can leave in the scheme or transfer out
  • must accept / allow transfer
  • if defined benefit - must be revalued each year

Registration of Schemes

  • Pensions Act requires trustees to ensure their scheme is registered with the Authority
  • Scheme must be registered within 1 year of commencement
  • Special registration form to be completed and sent to Authority
  • Essential that accurate and up to date information is held in respect of schemes on register for:
    • monitoring compliance with Act
    • carrying out investigations
    • payment of fees
    • providing tracing facility for early leavers

Payment of Fees

  • Pensions Act specifies that trustees must pay an annual fee to Authority from scheme resources
  • Basis for calculation of fees is prescribed in Regulations
  • Fees are payable in respect of each year of account
  • Fee based on number of active members

Disclosure of Information

  • Annual reports
  • Audited accounts
  • Benefit statements
  • Explanatory booklets
  • Termination of employment
  • Retirement or death
  • Wind-up
  • Pension adjustment orders

Annual Reports

The annual reports should include the identities of:

  • Trustee
  • Administrator
  • Consultant
  • Investment Managers
  • Auditors
  • Principal Employer
  • Actuary
  • Legal Advisor

Annual Reports

  • Trustees Report:
    • Legal Status
    • Financial Developments
    • Basis of Investment Management Fees
    • Membership Profile
    • Member Information
    • Administration of the Plan
    • Queries
    • Procedures for timely receipt of contributions
    • Selection of trustees
    • Benefit increases
    • Trustee training
    • Condition of the plan (Statement of Risks)
    • IDR Procedure
    • Funding Proposals (DB)
  • Investment Managers report

Annual Reports

  • Statement of Investment Policy & Principles (SIPP)
    • Objectives
    • Risk Management methods
    • Risk Management Process
    • Strategic Asset Allocation
  • Statement of trustees responsibilities
  • Independent Auditors report
  • Shortened Report
    • All Schemes with less than 100 members (Active & Deferred)
    • One Life Office can complete Report where assets held by more than one
    • Includes information requirements as per Full Report but no requirement for Audited Accounts

Annual Reports

  • Must be prepared within 9 months of scheme year-end
  • Active members should be informed of availability of annual report within 4 weeks of end of this 9 month period
  • Latest report must be provided free of charge:
    • Automatically to authorised trade unions within 9 months of scheme year-end
    • On request, to members, prospective members, their spouses and any other beneficiaries within 4 weeks of any request
  • Within 4 weeks of request, earlier reports must be:
    • Made available for inspection to any of the above parties, free of charge
    • Furnished to any of the above, provided no copy has been furnished in the previous 3 years. Charge may apply

Audited Accounts

Audited accounts must include:

  • A revenue account
  • A statement of assets and liabilities
  • A reconciliation of the financial transactions with the assets and liabilities
  • Previous year’s figures (if any)
  • An nalysis of investment, including self-investment and concentration of investment
  • A statement on whether the accounts have been prepared in accordance with the Statement of Recommended Practice – Financial Reporting of Pension Schemes
  • An auditor’s report

Audited Accounts

  • Must be prepared within 9 months of scheme year-end
  • Latest report must be provided free of charge:
    • Automatically to authorised trade unions within 9 months of scheme year-end
    • On request, to members, prospective members, their spouses and any other beneficiaries within 4 weeks of any request
  • Within 4 weeks of request, earlier reports must be:
    • Made available for inspection to any of the above parties, free of charge
    • Furnished to any of the above parties, provided no copy has been furnished in the previous 3 years. Trustees may impose a reasonable charge for this

Benefit Statements

  • Must be issued at least once a year, within 6 months of the date they relate to, and on request.
  • Must at least include:
    • How contribution is calculated
    • If integrated, that Scheme takes account of Social Welfare Pension
    • That Social Welfare Pension is subject to tests and personal details
    • How benefit is calculated, current expectation and leaving service benefit
    • Value of all DB transfers
    • Impact of Pension Adjustment Order
    • Information on process to be followed by member if any concern on payment of contributions

Benefit Statements – DC Schemes Only

  • Statement of reasonable projection
    • Assumptions: investment return, future contributions based on date of retirement or leaving service date
    • Highlight necessity to make adequate retirement provision
    • Provided to new members or those receiving transfers into the scheme within 2 months
    • On request within 4 weeks (charge may apply)

Explanatory Booklets

Within 2 months of joining scheme, member to be furnished with booklet, to include:

  • Who can join
  • Conditions of membership
  • How contributions are calculated
  • Whether the scheme is an approved scheme
  • Whether the scheme is defined benefit or defined contribution
  • What benefits are payable and how they are calculated
  • The conditions on which benefits are paid
  • Which benefits are discretionary
  • Which benefits are insured, and any restrictions on these
  • The arrangements for paying additional voluntary contributions
  • If integrated, a statement describing the operation of this

Explanatory Booklets

For DC Schemes trustees must also furnish members with the following:

  • The investment alternatives/ description, risks etc
  • The default investment strategy
  • The identity of the Investment Manager
  • Explanation on how members may give directions
  • Details of charges
  • Contact details on queries for investment alternatives
  • If Scheme rules include a provision that the Trustees are not liable for poor investment returns, a statement to that effect

Explanatory Booklets

  • Current booklet must be provided, on request, to members, prospective members, their spouses, any other beneficiaries and authorised trade unions within 4 weeks of any request
  • Trustees must notify the members of any material changes to the information included in the booklet, within 4 weeks of the date of the change

Termination of Employment - DC

  • For members with less than 2 year’s service:
    • Details of any refund of contributions
  • For all members:
    • Accumulated value of member’s fund at specified date
    • The date at which such amounts becomes payable
    • Whether there is an option to have alternative benefits payable immediately
  • The amount of any transfer value available
  • Statement of reasonable projection
  • How benefits can be claimed
  • Contact details of Scheme

Retirement or Death

  • The amount of benefit payable and any options relating to the payment of the benefit
  • How the benefit was calculated
  • Any conditions that must be met for continued payment of benefit
  • Any provisions for altering the amount of benefit payable
  • An option to choose between level or increasing pension


  • The date of the winding-up event
  • An estimate of the realisable value of the Scheme’s assets
  • An estimate of the cost of discharging the liabilities
  • A statement of all payments and receipts including:
    • Income earned by the Scheme and from the realisation of the assets
    • All payments to or for the benefit of members and other beneficiaries
    • All payments to or for the benefit of the employer
    • Any remuneration payable to the Trustees

Pension Adjustment Orders

  • To be given to the non-member spouse:
    • Statement of both the amount and nature of the benefit
    • Statement that non-member spouse should notify scheme of any change of address
    • Contact details for enquiries
    • A note that further information available from Pensions Authority
    • Estimate of the transfer value available (on request)
    • Statement of options available in respect of benefit (on request)
  • If member leaves the Scheme, Court and non-member spouse need to be notified within 2 months

The Pensions Act

  • Role of the Pensions Authority
  • Trustees duties under the Act
  • Registered administrators
  • Sanctions for non-compliance
  • On-the-spot fines
  • Equal pensions treatment
  • Whistleblowing provisions
  • Dispute resolution/pensions ombudsman

Role of the Pensions Authority

  • To monitor and supervise operation of Act, including activities of PRSA providers, provision and operation of PRSAs
  • Issue guidelines to trustees on duties and responsibilities and codes of practice on specific duties
  • Issue guidelines/ guidance notes on duties and responsibilities of PRSA providers
  • Supervise training for trustees
  • Advise Minister on standards for trustees and on their implementation
  • To register Administrators
  • To supervise Registered Administrators
  • Provide information to members on their rights
  • Investigate complaints and, if necessary, take Court proceedings for breach of Act
  • Register schemes and PRSAs and collect fees due
  • Advise Minister for Social Protection on operation of Act and on pensions matters generally

Role of the Pensions Authority

  • Regulatory Activities
    • Scheme Registration – schemes required to register with Pensions Authority
    • Funding Standard – requirement to submit an Actuarial Funding Certificate (AFC) at specific times
    • Disclosure Compliance – conduct random audits of schemes. Also work with providers to ensure compliance
  • Investigations
    • “Regular” – arising from complaints or audits
    • Whistleblow reports – mandatory for fraud or misappropriation
  • Sanctions
    • Strong powers of investigation
    • Powers of direct intervention in scheme administration by application to High Court
    • Prosecutions may be brought

Trustees Duties under the Act

In broad terms, the main duties of the Trustees under the Act are:

  • to ensure contributions are received
  • to ensure contributions are remitted
  • to invest the funds
  • to pay the benefits
  • to ensure that Funding Standard is met
  • to keep records and accounts
  • to preserve or transfer benefits
  • to disclose information
  • to ensure equal pensions treatment
  • to apply the resources of the scheme on wind up
  • to register the scheme with the Pensions Authority
  • to appoint Registered Administrators

Registered Administrators

  • Administrators to register with Pensions Authority
  • Prepare annual report and deliver to trustees within 8 months
  • Prepare annual benefit statements and deliver to trustees at least 1 month before due to members
  • Keep accurate and sufficient records
  • Any other duties under the Pensions Act
  • Not liable to on the spot fines
  • 90 days notice of change in administrator and 2 months for handover of records
  • Pensions Ombudsman and Revenue can exchange information.
  • Trustees must appoint a Registered Administrator

Sanctions for Non-Compliance

  • Court proceedings may be brought against trustees for non-compliance with Pensions Act
  • Fines of €5,000 for a summary offence and €25,000 for an indictable offence or to imprisonment for terms up to 2 years, or both
  • Fines not to be recoverable from the assets of the pension fund
  • Authority has power to suspend trustees
  • Authority can apply to High Court for removal of trustees

On the Spot Fines

  • On the spot fines levied on employer or trustees for failure to perform specific duties
  • €2,000 per Trustee per Breach
  • Not recoverable from pension scheme

Equal Pensions Treatment

  • Pensions Act specifies that trustees must ensure their scheme complies with principle of equal pension treatment
  • Discrimination prohibited on 9 grounds
  • No discrimination on any of the grounds in respect of any rule of a scheme
  • Applies to
    • access to scheme
    • contribution arrangements
    • entitlement to and calculation of benefits
    • retirement ages
    • survivors’ benefits
  • Forum for redress is The Equality Tribunal

Whistleblowing Provisions

  • ‘Whistleblowing’ provisions
  • ‘Relevant persons’ include trustees
  • Must report fraud or material misappropriation to Authority
  • Duty to report is absolute
  • Fines and penalties for failure to report
  • Voluntary reporting by any person allowed
  • Protection for persons acting in good faith

Dispute Resolution & the Pensions Ombudsman

  • Must have IDRP
  • Refer to in booklets
  • Not binding either side unless agreed
  • Trustees decision final
  • Trustees may seek assistance
  • Ombudsman - Complaints re loss from maladministration
  • Dispute of fact or law
  • Against trustee, employer or administrator
  • Excluded disputes
  • Ruling final – appeal to High Court

Other Legislation

  • IORPs Directives
  • Pension provision of family law acts
  • Protection of part-time fixed-term employees
  • Insolvency
  • Employment law
  • Finance legislation

IORPs Directives

  • IORPs I - 2006:
    • Cross-border arrangements
    • Investment requirements
    • Disclosure requirements
    • Funding Standard
    • Professional Guidance
  • IORPs II - 2019:
    • To improve pension scheme governance.
    • To facilitate risk management, including investment risk.
    • To provide better communication to members.
    • To make it easier for schemes to operate on a cross-border basis.
    • Effective 13 January 2019 (not yet transposed into Irish law)

Pension Provision of Family Law Acts

  • Issued in the event of legal separation or divorce
  • Types of Pensions Adjustment Order:
    • Retirement Benefit Order (RBO) - pension benefits
    • Contingent Benefit Order (CBO) - life assurance benefits
  • To spouse / dependant
  • Usually benefits accrued over period of marriage
  • 0% to 100% of benefits accrued
  • Over-rides trustee / member discretion / rules

Pension Provision of Family Law Acts

Trustees must

  • record
  • calculate benefits
  • advise spouse of options
  • notify Court if member leaves service
  • ensure benefits paid per Order

Protection of Part-Time & Fixed-Term Employees

  • Must be treated as favourably as comparable full-time/permanent employees in relation to their conditions of employment
  • Comparable employee is one who:
    • Does the same work
    • Does work of a similar nature
    • Does work of equal or lesser value
  • Benefits can be pro-rated
  • Some exceptions allowed


  • Social Insurance Fund
  • If sponsoring employer goes into liquidation, trustees can apply to Fund for payment of outstanding contributions
  • Applies to contributions due but not paid in 12 months prior to liquidation
  • Employee contributions deducted from salary but not paid into scheme
  • Employer contributions will be lesser of:
    • Unpaid contributions
    • Amount certified by Actuary to be necessary to meet liabilities

Employment Law

  • Employment law has nothing to do with trustees
  • … but there is significant overlap regarding pensions
    • Pensions promises a “grey” area
    • Scheme overridden by contractual promises?
    • Issue of member consent
    • Trustees’ role on company sales

Finance Legislation

  • 1918 Income Tax - tax relief on premiums
  • 1958 Finance Act - allowed gross build-up
  • 1972 Finance Act - basis for current Revenue practice
  • 1990 Pensions Act – protection for members
  • 1997 Taxes Consolidation Act - current approving act
  • 1999 Finance Act – ARFs/AMRFs for 20% directors
  • 2000 Finance Act – ARFs/AMRFs for AVCs
  • 2002 Pensions Amendment Act – PRSAs
  • 2003 Finance Act – increased contribution limits
  • 2006 Finance Act – restrictions on size of pensions
  • 2011 Finance Act – ARFs/AMRFs for DC members
  • 2014 Finance Bill – AMRF withdrawals

Honorable Mentions

  • February 2018 – Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018-2023
  • May 2018 - GDPR
  • September 2018 – EIOPA & ECB Reporting Requirements

Additional Resources

  • Rubicon Investment Consulting
  • Pensions Authority
  • Irish Association of Pension Funds
    • www.iapf.ie
    • Booklets, guides, trustee forum, conferences, seminars
  • Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman
  • Retirement Planning Council