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Knowledge and understanding duty on board members

If you’re a pension board member for a public service pension scheme you must meet certain legal requirements that relate to your knowledge and understanding.

Key points

  • You must have the required knowledge and understanding of scheme rules, documents recording scheme administration policies and pensions law.
  • You should have adequate training to meet the knowledge and understanding requirements.

Knowledge and understanding requirements

You must:

  • be conversant with (ie have a working knowledge of) your scheme rules and any document recording policy about the administration of your scheme
  • have knowledge and understanding of the law relating to pensions

Scheme rules and administration policies

You must have a working knowledge of your scheme rules and documented administration policies. You should understand them in enough detail to:

  • know where they are relevant to an issue
  • understand and if necessary challenge any advice that you’re given

You should keep an updated list of the documents and make sure that both the list and the documents are accessible.

Policies which we expect to be documented and with which you must therefore have a working knowledge include the following:

If you’re a pension board member of a funded scheme (eg local government schemes) you should also have a working knowledge of other documented policies about investment governance.

Pensions law

You should be aware of the range and extent of pensions law that applies to your scheme. You should have enough understanding of the law to recognise when and how it impacts on your responsibilities.

Acquiring, reviewing and updating knowledge and understanding

Your legal responsibilities begin from when you take up your post, so you should consider pre-appointment training or being mentored.

Ongoing training should also be an important part of your role as a pension board member. It will help to ensure that you maintain the necessary knowledge and understanding to carry out your role.

You should invest sufficient time in your learning and development and keep records of your learning activities.

You should regularly review your skills, competencies and knowledge to identify any gaps or weaknesses. Using a personalised training plan will help you to document and address these promptly as well as keep your knowledge and understanding up to date.

Public Service toolkit online learning

We provide a free online learning programme called the Public Service toolkit which pension board members should complete, unless you arrange the equivalent learning. You must log in or sign up to use the Public Service toolkit.

Go to the Public Service toolkit

You should regularly review your skills, competencies and knowledge to identify any gaps or weaknesses. Using a personalised training plan will help you to document and address these promptly as well as keep your knowledge and understanding up to date.

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Learning assessment resources

Use the following resources to review your knowledge and understanding, the tasks you need to do and the skills you need to develop.

Resources

A quick guide to personal development: public service
PDF 71KB , 4 pages
A short guide to planning, completing, recording and reflecting on your personal development.
Assessing your learning needs: public service
WORD 123KB , 8 pages
Use this tool to assess what public service pension learning you need and then to complete, record and reflect on the learning.

Skills and experience of the board

Having a diverse board will help you manage your scheme well.

When you recruit and select managers and board members, you should think about the needs of the board as a whole.

You should review the performance and effectiveness of the board annually and refer to the objectives in your business plan.

Use our example board matrix (PDF, 50kb, 9 pages) and sample questionnaire (PDF, 63kb, 7 pages) to evaluate how effective your board is.

Detailed guidance

'Knowledge and understanding required by pension board members' section of the public service code of practice.