• Nest in Trustee Accelerator Programme mentoring collaboration

Standard Life’s Trustee Accelerator Programme launches this week with the first intake of trustee trainees from a wide variety of personal and professional backgrounds joining the programme.

A key focus of the Programme is to increase diversity and inclusion among the ranks of pension scheme board trustees, so they are more reflective of the scheme members they represent. It will provide participants with a wealth of knowledge and insight into the world of pensions by providing learning, board shadowing and the qualifications needed to become trustee ready.

With mentoring and board shadowing central to the trainees’ development, Standard Life is delighted that Nest has joined forces to support the Programme, being the first provider outside of Standard Life to offer and create a bespoke mentoring and board shadowing opportunity for a trainee participant.

The Programme, which is being run in partnership with the Pensions Management Institute (PMI), attracted significant interest since it was first announced last November, with the 12 successful candidates being selected to train as the trustees of tomorrow following a rigorous recruitment process.

Welcoming the trainee trustees, Donna Walsh, Founder of the Trustee Accelerator Programme and Head of Master Trust at Standard Life said: “The creation and launch of the Trustee Accelerator Programme feels pivotal for the future make-up of Trustee boards, with our trainees bringing diverse experiences and backgrounds to offer the potential to improve the governance and management of pension schemes. If the level of interest we have had in the Programme from candidates and industry peers is reflective of a desire to make the pension industry more equitable and inclusive, then I believe this programme is a small but important step in the right direction to make pensions more representative of savers from across the UK. To meet the demand, we are calling on other providers to consider setting up similar programmes to help raise the bar industry-wide.

“Even though selecting the 12 trainees was made more difficult by the calibre of the candidates, we’ve assembled a group of trainees from scientific research, AI and data, banking, fashion and cosmetics, and telecommunications’ backgrounds and combined them with participants from other non-pensions disciplines at both Standard Life and Phoenix Group. I’m looking forward to seeing them develop over the next two years and emerge Trustee Ready in Spring 2026.”

Brendan McCafferty, Chair of Nest, said: “At Nest, we have more than 13 million members, many of whom are on low to middle incomes, and each of whom has a different background and future. We’re working hard to deliver good outcomes for each of those members. Our Nest Board thrives on diversity of thought and experience. We want to build on this to support good governance for our members, but also to help build the next generation of Trustees to help increase diversity across Trustee Boards in the wider pensions industry. This is why we’re pleased to be joining the Standard Life Trustee Accelerator Programme and to be welcoming our first trainee trustee in just a few weeks.”



Sarah Muir
07870 397537


Darragh Leeson
Standard Life, part of Phoenix Group
07801 856011


Trustee Accelerator Programme

The candidates will complete a series of training modules over the two years. They will receive individual mentoring and trustee board shadowing opportunities, including that from Nest, allowing them to put the theory into practice so that they are Trustee Ready upon graduating from the programme.

The 12 candidates will learn in a variety of ways including:

  • An introduction to pensions from the Pensions Policy Institute (PPI)
  • Get to know Standard Life and how we support customers today
  • Eight learning modules (with webinars provided by the PMI): Fundamentals of Trust Law, The Pension Landscape, Defined Benefits schemes, Defined Contributions schemes, Member Data, Contributions and Transfers and Asset Management, Governance and Member Communications, Soft Skills for Trustees, Mock Trustee Board Meeting
  • Mentoring from a Trustee
  • A buddy relationship with a pension professional
  • Group sessions to share learnings
  • Shadowing of Trustee Board and/or other governance meetings

About Standard Life

  • Standard Life is a brand that has been trusted to look after peoples’ life savings for nearly 200 years
  • Today it proudly serves millions of customers who come to Standard Life directly, through advisers and through their employers’ pension scheme.
  • Standard Life is part of Phoenix Group, the largest long-term savings and retirement business in the UK. We’re proud to be building on nearly 200 years of Standard Life heritage together
  • Our products include a variety of Pensions, Bonds and Retirement options to suit people’s needs, helping our customers to invest and save for their future. We’re proud to offer a leading range of sustainable and responsible investment options.
  • We support our customers on their journey to and through retirement with comprehensive, easy-to-understand guidance so they can invest in the right way for their needs, and plan a future they feel confident about.
  • The value of investments can go down as well as up and may be worth less than originally invested.

About Nest

  • Nest was set up by the government to give every UK worker somewhere good to save after the introduction of auto enrolment. Since then, it’s grown to become the largest workplace pension scheme in the country with more than 13 million members. One in three of the working population is expected to have a Nest pension pot by the late 2020s.
  • Nest’s members benefit from an award-winning investment strategy and one of the most diversified DC portfolios in the industry. It practices responsible investment that aims to deliver long-term growth while carefully managing risk. This approach also contributes towards the world its members want to live and retire in and is one of the ways Nest works to give members a bigger pension in a better world. Nest safeguards over £40 billion assets on its members’ behalf. It takes £400 million a week in new contributions, and that figure is expected to rise. By the end of the next decade Nest will have close to £100 billion invested on its members’ behalf.

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