On 10 July 2020, the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) published the awaited Conduct Standard prescribing the minimum skills and training requirements for members of the board of trustees of pension funds as contemplated in section 7A(3)(a) of the Pension Funds Act 1956, effective from date of publication.

Section 7A(3)(a) requires the trustees of pension funds to attain skills and complete training, within six months after being appointed, prescribed by the FSCA. Section 7A(3)(b) provides that board members must maintain their skills and training throughout their term of appointment.

Who is required to obtain certification?

The Conduct Standard requires a board member to obtain a certificate of completion of the Trustee Training Toolkit, accessed on the website www.trusteetoolkit.co.za, within six months from the date of appointment to the board.

Board members who were appointed before 10 July 2020 are, for purposes of this Conduct Standard, deemed to have been appointed on 10 July 2020 and must complete the Trustee Training Toolkit by 10 January 2021.

Board members who obtained certification before 10 July 2020 are not required to complete the training again subject to the board member completing a declaration that they completed the Trustee Training Toolkit without assistance.

A person who completes the Trustee Training Toolkit and is subsequently appointed to a board of a fund is not required to complete the certification requirements again.

What is required of board members?

The Trustee Toolkit assessment includes:

  1. Tutorials, case studies and initial assessments which are completed online and should pose no financial hardship on any trustee obtaining the certification; and
  2. The final assessment must be completed under the supervision of the principal officer or chairperson of the board to ensure that the assessment is completed without assistance. However, where it is impractical for such supervision to occur, the board member may complete the final assessment alone. This assessment verifies the trainee’s competence to be a board member.

If the assessment was done under the supervision of the principal officer or chairperson of the board, that person must sign a declaration that will automatically be generated upon completion of the Trustee Training Toolkit, confirming that the board member completed the assessment without assistance. Where it is impractical for the principal officer or chairperson of the board to supervise the board member in completing the assessment then the board member is obliged to complete the declaration stating that they completed the final assessment without assistance.

A pension fund is required to retain a copy of the declaration and provide a signed copy of that declaration to the board member and to the FSCA on request.

When additional modules are added to the Trustee Training Toolkit in future, board members will be required to complete them within the period set out by the FSCA.