Insights Into Trustee Selection and Orientation in Canada

What makes a good trustee? What’s the toughest part about being a trustee? What’s the motivation for becoming a trustee? These are questions members have been wanting the answers for, so we deployed a survey earlier this summer to multi-employer funds across Canada. Below are key findings.


Trustee Challenges
The vast majority of fund representatives believe it is more challenging to be a trustee today compared with the past. The most common challenges for new trustees are personal concerns about lack of appropriate knowledge or experience with fund issues and a desire for work/life balance. Desire for work/life balance, fiduciary liability and concern about keeping up with constantly changing regulations are the most common challenges for current trustees.

can trustee challenge
Desired Skills and Traits of Trustees
Listening was regarded as the top skill for a good trustee. Many respondents cited working as a team player and effectiveness in working with both labour and management as needed skill sets. Being committed to learning, being ethical and being honest/transparent were most commonly viewed as necessary personality traits.

can trustee skill set
Trustee Recruiting
Respondents cited the learning experience/chance for ongoing education, responsibility/duty and the ability to improve the fund as the three most effective messages when recruiting new trustees. Other commonly cited effective recruiting messages are the ability to lead and strategize, the ability to take care of others and giving back. When comparing the difficulty of recruiting trustees with a decade ago, respondents were only slightly more likely to say it is more difficult today to recruit labour trustees compared with a decade ago but far more likely to say it is more difficult to recruit management trustees today.

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Respondent Demographics
Among the 49 survey respondents, labour respondents outweighed management three to one. About 73% of survey respondents are trustees, 12% are the appointing authorities for their funds and the remaining 14% are administrative staff. Survey respondents commonly serve multiple funds within their organizations. Most responding funds are from the construction industry, but a variety of industries, fund sizes and regions of the country are represented.

[Related: Foundations of Trust Management Standards (FTMS™) and Advanced Trust Management Standards (ATMS™) offer trustees a clear, cohesive training path.]

The International Foundation’s survey was sent to multi-employer funds in a number of industries across Canada in June 2015. The survey received 49 completed responses in total, and 46 unique funds are represented.* Canadian Multi-Employer Trustee Selection and Orientation—2015 Survey Results examines the recruitment, selection, orientation and education of new trustees and the biggest challenges facing today’s trustees.

What challenges do your trustees face? Which skills and traits do they exhibit? How would you rate the difficulty of recruiting new trustees? Let us know! View the full survey results, and stay tuned for additional reports, articles and blogs pertaining to trustee selection and orientation.

*Survey results are designed for fund representatives to benchmark their actions against their peers. The reader is cautioned that the very small sample size restricts the extent to which findings can be generalized.

Justin Held, CEBS
Educational Program Specialist/Research Analyst at the International Foundation