What are the Trustee's duties?
The Trustee has several responsibilities. It must always act in the best interests of all RMPP beneficiaries – this includes deferred members, pensioners and beneficiaries, as well as members who are currently working. Specifically, its mission is ‘to pay all of the benefits as they fall due under the RMPP, in accordance with the Trust Deed and Rules.’
The Trustee's responsibilties include; monitoring the financial strength of Royal Mail Group (and hence its ability to pay pension contributions), investing contributions, and keeping members informed.
The Trustee Directors
The Trustee is led by the Trustee Directors. You can find out more about the roles and responsibilities of a Trustee on The Pension Regulator's website.
More information about the RMPP's Trustee Directors is in the Plan's Report and Accounts.
Who are the Trustee Directors?
The Trustee Board is made up of nine Trustee Directors. Four Trustee Directors are nominated by the employers, four by the unions – and the ninth is an independent Chair, appointed by Royal Mail with the unions’ agreement. They all meet formally around six times a year. The Trustee Board is supported by six sub-committees. The sub-committees each cover a different area: administration, audit, risk & finance, discretions, internal disputes resolution, funding and investment. One position is currently vacant. The eight serving Trustee Directors are:
Joanna Matthews – Chair
Joanna Matthews joined the Board as Chair in October 2012. She built her career as a pension lawyer at Sacker & Partners. Joanna became a full-time professional trustee in 2006 and today chairs a number of occupational pension schemes including the: Civil Aviation Pension Scheme, Electricity Supply Pension Scheme, Siemens Pension Scheme and the Mirror Group Pension Schemes.
Phil Browne joined Royal Mail in 1980 and is a member of the National and Postal Executive for the Communication Workers Union (CWU), a position he has held since 1995, prior to which he held various CWU posts since 1985. He was elected to the Trustee Board in October 2008 as a Member Nominated Trustee.
Mark Ashworth represents and is a director of Law Debenture, which is a professional independent trustee of pension schemes. He is a Barrister and Chartered Secretary and joined Law Debenture in 2001. He serves on the trustee boards of a number of major pension schemes. He is a member of the Council of the Society of Pensions Consultants, and served as its President from 2006 to 2008. Law Debenture was appointed to the Trustee Board in March 2006.
Graeme Cunningham is a member of the National Committee of the Communication Managers Association (CMA) Branch of UNITE and is the CMA’s principal representative for all pension matters. He joined the Trustee Board in 2003.
Lionel Sampson is the Senior Policy Advisor to the Deputy General Secretary, Postal Department, of the CWU. He was previously the Policy Advisor dealing with pensions. Prior to this, he was Divisional Representative for the South East Division of the CWU, and a member of both the Union of Communication Workers and National Executive Councils. He joined the Trustee Board in October 1996.
Paul Brown was Head of Commercial Development for Post Office Limited – he joined The Post Office as a Branch Manager in 1999 and was a member of The Post Office Senior Leadership Team from 2006. Paul joined the Trustee Board in August 2012 and remains a Trustee Director on behalf of Post Office Limited.
Paul Kennedy is the Midlands Divisional Representative for the Communication Workers Union, a post he has held since its creation in 1992. He joined Royal Mail in 1974 and has held a variety of CWU posts since 1982. He is also a member of the Employment Tribunals. He joined the Trustee Board in August 2006.
Matthew is a Finance Director in Royal Mail Group. He joined the Trustee Board on 1st December 2020 as an Employer Nominated Trustee.
How are the Trustee Directors trained?
After the Pensions Act 2004, the Pensions Regulator issued a Code of Practice called Trustee Knowledge and Understanding. This sets out some specific areas where trustees need to have a certain level of knowledge.
Our Trustee Directors undertake regular training and assessments, to make sure they have the knowledge they need.
The Trustee Directors each complete an annual self-assessment questionnaire. It’s based on aspects of law relating to trusteeship and pensions, investments and funding and other essential aspects of pensions knowledge. For instance, it includes units on:
- the law relating to trusts
- strategic asset allocation
- fund management, including performance measurement
- the RMPP's Trust Deed and Rules, the Statement of Investment Principles, and other key RMPP documents.
Training from the Pensions Regulator
The Pensions Regulator has an e-learning programme known as the Trustee Toolkit. It has 11 modules covering the knowledge and understanding that trustees need. All of our Trustee Directors have successfully completed the Trustee Toolkit.
All Trustee Directors have training on specific topics throughout the year. And each one is offered tailored training, depending on the sub-committees they sit on and the result of their self-assessment questionnaires.
Each year the Trustee Directors meet to assess their knowledge and find new ways of increasing it.
Who are the Trustee's advisers?
The Trustee’s advisers over the past year comprised; Actuary, Auditors, Bankers, Custodian and Performance Measurers, Financial Advisers, Investment Consultants, Investment Managers, Property Valuers, Legal Advisers, and Solicitors. Advisers are reviewed periodically, an up to date list of advisers is included in the RMPP’s Report and Accounts.
What's the Trustee's relationship with Royal Mail Group and Post Office Limited?
The Trustee is a separate legal entity from Royal Mail Group, Post Office Ltd and any other sponsoring companies. This allows the Trustee to carry out its duties under the legal status of a trust, as well as giving RMPP members some legal benefits and extra protection.
However, the Trustee must work alongside Royal Mail Group and Post Office Ltd. This is to make sure that benefits are delivered properly, and that the plan works in the best interest of ALL members, in accordance with the Trust Deed and Rules.
If Royal Mail Group or Post Office Ltd propose any changes to the plan, the Trustee must consider them carefully. It must make sure that any changes are made fairly, on a correct legal and financial basis. The Trustee takes independent advice wherever appropriate.
Who is the Trustee Executive?
The Trustee Directors who sit on the Trustee Board delegate the day-to-day management to the Trustee Executive. The Trustee Executive is a full-time team of 14 people.
The Trustee Executive isn’t just a link between the Trustee Board and its external advisers. It’s a team of expert individuals who all bring their own skills to the RMPP. In detail, the Trustee Executive must:
- Satisfy the Trustee Board
- Manage suppliers
- Liaise with Royal Mail and Associated Employers
- Liaise with the Unions and Federations
- Liaise with members
- Carry out effective internal communications
- Set realistic objectives
- Be focused on achieving objectives, assuming accountability and meeting responsibilities.
How is the RMPP governed?
In any organisation, good governance helps to get the right results for everyone. It means setting out clear, effective policies and making sure that they’re implemented properly. In pension plans like the RMPP, good governance is particularly driven by trustee knowledge and regular self-assessment. That’s why we have training for Trustee Directors. This training helps make sure the directors have the knowledge they need to make good decisions.
Areas of focus
There are several areas where we believe governance is particularly important:
- Monitoring the 'employer covenant' – this means looking at the financial stability of Royal Mail Group and Post Office Ltd, and understanding how any changes could affect the RMPP
- Negotiating with Royal Mail Group and Post Office Ltd about RMPP funding requirements
- Monitoring and managing the RMPP's service providers – this includes the administrator and professional advisers
- Regularly reviewing investment performance and investment strategy
- Member communications
- Investing responsibly - The Trustee uses the updated Myners' Principles - these offer guidance on best practice investing. The Trustee also uses the UK Stewardship Code. This was published by the Financial Reporting Council in July 2010; the Statement of Compliance describes how the Trustee has applied the principles of the Stewardship Code to the RMPP. The Trustee has also signed up to the United Nations-backed Principles for Responsible Investment. The Trustee will have a formal statement on climate change later this year following a full review. The Plan uses Sustainalytics as an Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) engagement specialist.