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Digital transformation of pension scheme boards – A Digital Adoption Case Study
6 June 2022

Digital transformation of pension scheme boards – A Digital Adoption Case Study

The UK landscape of retirement provisions has changed and evolved significantly. The pace has accelerated in the last five years in policy, legislation and regulatory requirements, which is why many Pension boards have accelerated their digital transformation plans.

Digital transformation is not new to Pension boards, many have been going through this journey long before Covid-19 and this is no exception for BCF Pension Trust, an authorised Master Trust.

Challenges before OnBoard

Prior to OnBoard, BCF Pension Trust mainly held in-person board meetings, these were typically run on a quarterly basis and generally took up the best part of the day. The board were also geographically spread and it wasn’t always easy to get everyone together. In addition to looking after board meetings and the associated paperwork, BCF Pension Trust stored a vast amount of supporting paperwork.

A solution was needed to help their trustees adapt to a new digital way of working, enabling them to have secure and convenient access to the latest updates and board documentation.

The Implementation

BCF Pension Trust reviewed several board portal platforms, but it soon became clear that OnBoard was the leader in feature set and value for money. In regard to the BCF Pension Trust digital transformation stage, they were at the very beginning of their journey.

Bruce Davey, Pension Scheme Manager said “We went out on different offerings on the market and we settled on OnBoard. I liked the functionality. It was more limited in those days than it is now. There have been quite a lot of things added. I liked the pricing. It was straightforward. It was a good deal more reasonable than many of the other offerings on the market. So we approached OnBoard and, not wanting to use a pun, we got onboard with them.

In terms of the set-up, BCF Pension Trust were coming from the point of brand new, Bruce explained that “The set up was straightforward. We had our first trustee meeting one week after we signed on the dotted line. This was two and a half years ago. In conjunction with OnBoard, we have subsequently developed the system by adding extra functionality. It is all evolving and developing. It is making our life, certainly my life a good deal easier in terms of keeping track of everything that is going on.

The Multi-Board Support feature that OnBoard offers was also valuable to Bruce, who commented that “I do also manage another private medical health trust, that is also on OnBoard. It is convenient for me. I just have a single login. I have both organisations within that login, so I can easily go into one or the other. I can keep track of what is going in in both of those organisations.”

Streamlined Board Process

OnBoard helped streamline the board lifecycle processes at BCF Pension Trust. Their board meetings are now much more agile, and they can make better, faster, more informed decisions and improve operational efficiencies based on intuitive data and analytics.

In describing the improved workflows, Bruce said “We have definitely found that meetings have become shorter and more frequent. That is partly because they are virtual meetings. It is not only to do with the fact that we have dispensed with refreshments, we are able to have meetings more often, which is a big help. It helps me as the manager of the scheme because we can keep things moving quickly.”

Bruce also outlined that the BCF Pension Trust board meetings have become more agile, commenting that “In the old days when you had a trustee meeting once a quarter, you had that time in between where things could go off the boil a bit. Whereas now we can have a meeting once a month and between meetings we can send out items for approval. When it comes to things like approvals they are very straight forward. The notification comes through saying there is something you need to approve, click here and that will take you through to the sign-in page. All you need to do is remember how to log-in.”

The BCF Pension Trust board members can now make better, faster, more informed decisions. Bruce elaborated on this point, commenting that “If we need a resolution between two trustee meetings that can be done. Typically, that might be something like we need to send out a death benefit case. We don’t need to wait for the next meeting, we can get started on the process with that. For me as the administrator, it does also give me insight into who has actually done what they have been asked to and looked at the information. There is no hiding the fact that if you turned up to the board meeting having not read any of the supporting paperwork, I will actually be aware of it.”

Additional features like Task Management also help to streamline the board meeting process, commenting on this Bruce mentioned that “When we have had a meeting, typically you will have a bunch of decisions, these decisions can be put onto OnBoard and approved. It is a nice way of voting. We can retrospectively draw upon this information, so we can refer back to who voted on certain points. But you also end up with a set of actions out of the meeting. Once these are integrated into the minutes, this will automatically create a task list for all of the attendees and they will get automated reminders, based on the due dates that I put in, when I am preparing the minutes. That has been a great help for me, because I used to have to chase trustees manually and sometimes forgot to be honest.”

Improved Accessibility and Security

OnBoard’s intuitive platform was a key benefit for BCF Pension Trust, they now have full control over who can access and utilise board information. OnBoard’s robust security and data protection features also give BCF Pension Trust confidence and control over their boards most sensitive data.

Bruce held strong views on accessibility, commenting that “We went into this with at least half of the trustees beyond retirement age, but it has been incredible how everyone has adapted to OnBoard. It worked well and it is very intuitive. There are also the obvious efficiencies of distributing information, you don’t distribute information anymore, you put it all in OnBoard and you send everyone who needs one a notification. Having OnBoard as a single source of information for the board is a great benefit. Anytime any of the trustees need to know anything, or get any information, we can make sure that we hold that information in OnBoard.”

Security was also a key issue for Bruce “OnBoard has brought so many improvements, but it is the security and having everything in one place that stands out for me. I can’t imagine a situation where we don’t have everything in one place. OnBoard has a bank of resources, agendas, meeting minutes, all of the trustee decisions, anything electronically signed. We had something recently where we needed to make some changes to the bank approvals and we needed a signed resolution for the board, it was all done through OnBoard. I remember the days of having an envelope addressed to the first trustee, which had five more self-addressed envelopes inside, with a note to sign this and send it to the next trustee, it could take weeks to get something back. We also had situations where a trustee would sign under a different person’s name. I’m glad those days are gone.”

Sharing sensitive information is no longer a concern at BCF Pension Trust, as highlighted by Bruce “For me, the security has been improved significantly in the fact that I am no longer emailing items around. The auto complete function in Outlook is great, until it goes wrong. We have all heard of cases of files being emailed to the wrong person. The only thing that gets emailed is a notification, which does not contain any sensitive information at all. It is also possible to prevent trustees from downloading files, so particularly sensitive information is very securely held in OnBoard.”

In summary

BCF Pension Trust board meetings have now been transformed. Papers are created and distributed in a fraction of the time, and wasteful paper board packs have been eliminated, completely digitalising the entire process. OnBoard has empowered BCF’s Board members to conduct effective and strategic board meetings. Immediate benefits included the visualisation of the meeting cycle and being able to receive revised and new meeting papers instantaneously.

Key takeaways after partnering with OnBoard:

  • Pre-meeting preparation is easier, and with a smoother process
  • Meetings have become more efficient
  • Documentation is easier to store and access
  • A board portal that is constantly evolving and updating
  • BCF Pension Trust’s board members now have a portal that is user-friendly and intuitive

Watch the full interview here.

For more information on our Insight Partner OnBoard, please click here.

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Last update: 27 May 2022

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