Agenda item

Training Needs Analysis and Training Policy 2020/21

Report of Director of Corporate Services

Minutes:

The Committee were informed that Section 248A of the Pensions Act 2004, as amended by the Public Services Pensions Act 2013, required that trustees of occupational pension schemes should be trained and have knowledge and understanding of the law relating to pensions, the role of trustees, the principles of scheme funding and investment, and the management and administration of pension scheme benefits.

 

At their meeting on 8 December 2017, the Pensions Committee reaffirmed their commitment to the CIPFA Knowledge and Skills Framework (CIPFA KSF) and the adoption of a high-level Training Plan covering the 8 key knowledge areas of the CIPFA KSF. The Committee noted that CIPFA KSF was mandatory for Local Pensions Board Members, and whilst it was currently only a recommendation for Committee Members and Senior Officers, such as the S151, following the Good Governance Project commissioned by the Scheme Advisory Board (SAB) and undertaken by Hymans Robertson, it was anticipated that something similar to the CIPFA KSF would become mandatory for all. 

 

The Director indicated that training for Pensions Committee Members in 2018/19 and 2019/20 consisted of a number of elements. Some of these were directly in response to the results of the previous training needs analysis (TNA), e.g. Performance Measurement and Cost Benchmarking, whilst some were dictated by the areas of focus for the Fund in the short to medium term, e.g. Strategic Asset Allocation Review and the 2019 Actuarial Valuation. In many instances, training was undertaken as part of routine Committee meetings and delivered by the Actuary. Pensions Committee Members also attended a workshop where they considered Responsible Investment and as a result agreed a new set of Investment Principles for the Fund. Some new Members of the Committee also attended Pensions Fundamentals training.

 

All Pensions Committee Members and Local Pensions Board Members were asked to complete a new TNA during December 2019. An analysis of the responses found that there were differences in individual Members’ knowledge but based on the responses received, the Committee (c57% response rate) had improved on its 2018/19 scores overall and the Pensions Board (c83% response rate) was marginally down on its 2018/19 scores, however, with several new Members very recently appointed, this was not a surprise. The Director added that it was pleasing to see an improvement across all of the 8 areas of knowledge generally, but particularly so in relation to ‘Investment Performance and Risk Management’ (6) and ‘Actuarial Methods, Standards and Practices’ (8) given these had been the two main areas of focus throughout 2018 and 2019.  Furthermore, the responses had shown that there was a suitable level of knowledge across the membership of both the Pensions Committee and Pensions Board and which enabled those bodies to be effective. 

 

The Committee were also informed that, having considered the detailed results from the 2019 TNA, training proposed for 2020/21 was likely to include the following:

 

      June / July - Portfolio Evaluation Limited and CEM Benchmarking – refresher training at Committee on Performance Measurement and Cost Benchmarking;

      July / November – Investing in Infrastructure – as this is a new asset class in the Fund’s Strategic Asset Allocation, Members will benefit from a greater understanding;  

      July / November – Private Debt – the Fund has been an investor in this asset class for around 2 years now – have our expectations been met and what might we expect going forwards?;

      September / December / March – Pensions Legislation and Administration – what does it say, what does it involve and what are the current issues?; and

      October – December 2020 – The Local Government Association offer 3-day Pensions Fundamentals training, which is routinely offered to all new Committee and Board members.

 

The Director added that Committee and Board Members, who had not already done so or who would like a refresher, may also wish to have a look at the Pension Regulators toolkit. This was an online training programme covering many of the key areas of the CIPFA KSF (with the main exception being investments).

 

The Committee also noted that, as with all areas of Pensions, it was best practice and further demonstrated good governance to set out the Pension Fund’s attitude towards the Training of all individuals charged with the oversight of the Fund, by having a policy on such. The Committee approval was sought to the Staffordshire Pension Fund’s Training Policy.

 

RESOLVED – (a) That the results of the 2019 Training Needs Analysis (TNA) (as detailed in Appendix 2 to the report) in relation to the CIPFA Knowledge and Skills Framework (CIPFA KSF); and the 2020/21 Training Plan (as detailed in paragraph 11 to the report) be noted.

 

(b) That the Staffordshire Pension Fund’s Training Policy (Appendix 3 to the report) be approved.

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