The preparations the trustee has put in place during the 'preparation' phase should assist them as a crisis emerges. The early warning system that the trustee has put in place will need to be developed at this point.
The trustees should:
Liaise with TPR: ensuring they have access to up to date information and are ready to respond to TPR requests. Check with legal advisers about what is disclosable and what effect legal privilege has on liaising with TPR. Make sure that there is more than one representative of the trustee and, if possible, the scheme secretary on all calls and at all meetings, with advisers as appropriate.
Additional meetings: check that there is sufficient resource in place to support these.
Advisers: consider if additional advisers such as specialist financial restructuring advisers are needed and, if so, arrange for their appointment.
Member concerns: consider how best to liaise with members, perhaps by way of standard responses.
Contingency planning: put in place a contingency plan at the earliest opportunity.
Resource: ascertain whether there is enough support and whether there is extra resource that can be made available, potentially at short notice. Identify at what stage this is likely to be needed.
Secretariat: review secretariat support and whether extra help is needed to support the pensions team - particularly a scheme secretary and pensions manager.
Meeting logistics: consider how trustee meetings can be run in the context of Covid-19 and social distancing requirements. The trust deed should be checked to ensure that electronic or telephone meetings and electronic decision-making are possible and valid. Check quorum requirements for any subcommittee and check the trust deed to ensure decisions can be delegated, and ensure that 'short notice' requirements are reviewed so that meetings are valid.
Compile a catalogue of guarantees including PPF guarantees and, if necessary, have them checked for validity and enforceability.
Employer covenant: implement the plans set out during the preparation phase.
Trustee training: establish whether specialist trustee training is required to enable the trustee to understand issues related to insolvency or restructuring. Arrange training for the trustee - and the scheme secretary - if required on flexible apportionment arrangements; regulated apportionment arrangements; TPR guidance on deficit contribution reductions; easements on valuations resulting from Covid-19 and TPR's Covid-19 guidance; how and when PPF and other guarantees are triggered; and refresher training on conflicts if previous training was some time ago. Training may also be needed on perceived or actual conflict issues.
Conflicts of interest: ensure a register of perceived or actual conflicts is kept up to date.
Communications: implement a communications policy identifying how the trustee communicates with members.
Fees: agree with the employer that it will fund all the additional expenses arising from any corporate event, such as restructuring, above and beyond normal day to day scheme management.
Filing: organise the filing. Draw up a list of contacts of all investment and AVC providers and advisers. Pull together a full set of the scheme documents. Retain all correspondence between the company, trustee and TPR, and keep records of emails, letters and meetings. Make sure this is all accessible and searchable.
Develop – and keep – a list of advice and from whom, and decisions taken, in chronological order so they can be accessed easily.
Benefit payments: check whether the company pays pensions or operates any banking, and consider the options. Establish whether payroll and back-ups need to be moved away from the employer's servers.