Pensioners have statutory rights that must be observed. It is critical that the organisation keeps appropriate records.
Where business functions (and the requisite staff) have been transferred to executive agencies, organisations or the local government, these organisations may have created their own pension funds or schemes.
A pension scheme’s archives provide a unique record of past practices, policies and precedents which can provide valuable information for the current management of the scheme, ensuring that rules and discretion are applied consistently, successes are exploited fully and mistakes are not repeated. They provide a continuous resource as staff move roles or leave the company. It is often suggested that a significant proportion of the intellectual capital of a pension scheme walks out of the door each evening. Careful records management can help to mitigate the risks which that implies.
Archives can provide evidence of a scheme’s compliance with its legislative and regulatory obligations. Furthermore an archive collection can illustrate a pension scheme’s history to its members, emphasising the scheme’s endurance and reliability as well as demonstrating a commitment to openness and accountability. This offers reassurance to scheme members about the security of the scheme and their investment in it.
Electronic records management
Management of the records currently in use in an organisation is vital to ensuring that material is retained to form an archive. However, effective records management can provide additional benefits for any organisation:
- as an information resource;
- operational efficiency;
- meeting legislative and regulatory requirements
In the current climate of financial uncertainty, having an organised set of records, clearly listed and arranged, would help pensions teams in the event of the collapse of a company especially if they suddenly have to vacate the premises where the records are kept.
The UK Pensions Regulator offers a neat summary of the risks involved with poor records management: Poor record-keeping may lead to significant additional costs in a number of areas such as administration, error correction, claims from members, buy-outs, windups and, potentially, may necessitate the making of more conservative actuarial assumptions. Where a scheme’s poor record keeping becomes known, it can cause reputational damage.
Records management can help mitigate these risks.
Pensions records should be kept by the office responsible for pensions. Key records include trust deeds and rules and the minute books of the trustees of the pension scheme. If civil servants have been transferred to newly created organisations, such as executive agencies, special arrangements may have to be made to safeguard records of pension entitlements.