Online meeting management tools have been one of the major growth areas over the last 2 years. The range of offerings now available means that there really is an option to suit every size of scheme and trustee board. Online meeting packs make the trials of emailing an oversized email attachment a thing of the past. Plus, most portals offer an app with the ability to view the pack offline after downloading if no secure wifi is available. However, good meeting pack management is still essential to ensure trustees aren’t overwhelmed by the volume of information. Proactive management of meeting papers, executive summaries and decision trees are all part of the process for a scheme secretary.
Choosing the right option for you
Some top tips to consider when choosing the best option for your trustee board:
What does it need to do – think about what you need the online portal to do?
- Will it be just for the trustees to access meeting packs?
- Is it to also be a library for scheme information?
- Will it be your replacement for emails regarding decision making, such as member trustee discretion cases?
Consider your secure access needs
Most, but not all, provide different access levels to be set so you can be in control of who sees what information. This can simplify an audit process where access can be granted to the auditors to collect the required documents directly. Also consider the access rights to file documents, as scheme secretary it is useful to be able to file documents, a right not always granted by in house systems.
Turbo charge your scheme library
Having your scheme information in a library makes for a seamless onboarding process for new trustees. An added bonus of introducing a new system is the opportunity to spring clean your existing documents ready for upload. However, any online system is only as good as the filing system, not just at the outset but also on an ongoing basis.
Think about advanced search capabilities
The ability to search for keywords within documents is a useful feature to look back to find x y or z, although it can be quite disconcerting to discover how quickly the years are flying by. Some systems can search through a variety of different images, so scanned documents, PDFs etc are all accessible.
Think about your data security
Data security can be enhanced as it is managed from within the portal and there is less risk of sensitive information going astray. However, it is also important to undertake the due diligence of the back office system and the data protection processes in place from cyber-attack. Not just with regards to the loss of data but also the loss of access to information.
These are just some of the key areas we consider when working with trustees in our role as scheme secretary. What is clear is that online portals can be an important part of good governance and as ever with technology, using them to their full potential is often a work in progress.
Sandra Harvey is a pension scheme secretary with over 20 years’ experience in the pensions industry as a key member of in-house pension teams including GUS, Pearson and GlaxoSmithKline prior to joining Pi Consulting in October 2016. An Associate of the Pensions Management Institute, Sandra has researched the range of trustee portals as part of Pi’s independent analysis of trustee support developments.