Training experienced trustees | PLSA
Training experienced trustees

Training experienced trustees

03 October 2023

Earlier this year, we explored Part 1 of the PLSA’s Trustee Training course, aimed at new and prospective trustees. Here, Maggie Williams talks to Carolyn Saunders, leader of the PLSA’s training about Parts 2 and 3, for more experienced trustees.

Who would benefit from parts 2 and 3 of the PLSA’s Trustee Training?

Part 2 of the training is a practical course about putting theory into practice. Ideally, trustees would have around 12 months’ worth of trustee meetings to draw on. Part 3 is also a very practical course, run as a fictional trustee meeting, and is aimed at people with two to three years of board experience.

We aim for consistent levels of expertise to make sure that everyone gets the maximum benefit from attending. The courses are very collaborative and interactive so all delegates will be sharing their experience and knowledge with others, as you would on a trustee board. This is done in a safe, confidential space.

What can delegates expect from the courses?

Both Parts 2 and 3 are based around case studies and are run by Philippa Connaughton (Partner, Sackers) and me. Participants work through the case studies in groups, then we discuss them together in an open forum. There is some minimal use of PowerPoint presentations, just to introduce topics that are relevant to the case studies and draw out conclusions – but it’s only about 15% of the content.

In the fictional trustee meeting scenario for Part 3, we draw out various issues that are then used as the basis for workshop-style discussions and problem-solving.

In both courses, we want to develop delegates’ confidence and good instincts, as well as giving them a full understanding of the trustee role. We are not aiming to develop technical skills, as trustees can and should call on their professional advisers for technical advice. The role of trustees is to steer the ship and be able to see the bigger picture.

How do you balance core skills and topical challenges in the training materials?

There will always be unexpected or unusual things to address as a trustee. The main focus of the courses is to help trustees become more confident and feel equipped to deal with whatever new challenges come along.

When we devise the syllabus for Part 2, we focus on topics that trustees will need to be confident in handling, as they are likely to encounter them regularly. Those could include exercising discretions, communicating with members and identifying when and what advice the scheme needs. We also regularly review and update materials as needed to make sure they remain relevant.

For Part 3, we focus on building trustees’ confidence with more complex issues. These relate to current challenges wherever possible.

Why should trustees choose to train with the PLSA – and what value do you add over in-scheme training?

It’s human nature that any trustee board will run its meetings in a certain way, and there will be expectations of how others around the table will operate. Those preconceptions and expectations also carry over into a board’s training environment. That might mean that trustees get used to not questioning certain things, or that they naturally fall into a particular way of thinking and acting.

Our courses are structured so that delegates can learn from other trustees outside their own scheme, bringing diversity of thought, approach and experience. By moving outside their usual environment, trustees have an opportunity to think about different ways of working.

The courses are deliberately informal and we are very happy to answer whatever questions we are asked about. We can discuss current challenges to illustrate points in our discussion, or talk about how trustees might respond.

One of the reasons why Philippa and I enjoy running this training is because no two courses are ever the same. It is very much the delegates’ day and we want to make sure everyone can get what they want and need from the training.

Future training dates

Trustee Training – Part 2: The Practice, 31 October 2023

Trustee Training – Part 3: Expert, 22 November 2023

Trustee Training will also take place throughout 2024, and our 2024 dates for Trustee Training have been announced.

Register for a 2024 trusteeship course before 31 December 2023 and pay this year’s prices.

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