Written by Stephen Fallowell, AMNT committee member for PensionAge
In the Science Fantasy satirical novel ‘The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy’ by Douglas Adams a race of super intelligent beings build a super computer called ‘Deep Thought’ to answer the ultimate question of ‘Life, The Universe and Everything’. They are shocked when the computer comes up with the answer 42! When challenged the computer responds by saying that they didn’t ask the right question.
Asking pertinent questions to obtain useful answers is an integral part of the Trustees duties. Challenging pre conceptions and the status quo leads to greater understanding and better outcomes for members of the fund.
Recently a friend took a dispute to the Pension Ombudsman based on the lack of clarity provided by Pension Fund information. The Trustees had correctly followed the rules in the Trust deed, but the information provided was of a general nature and not specific to the member. The Ombudsman though accepting this fact ruled that the onus to find out detailed information was on the member and the only liability on the Fund was to ensure correct information was provided when the correct question was asked.
This ruling shows the importance of not only asking questions, but of asking the questions that will find the appropriate answer.
In the case of the ultimate question to the ultimate answer 42; that turned out to be 9 times 6; who’d have thought!