Professional Pensions asked its audience of trustees and scheme managers about corporate hospitality and gifts. In the first of a two-part series, we look at whether they accept such gifts and, if so, what restrictions there are…
When asked whether or not they accept corporate hospitality or gifts from their scheme’s advisers, fund managers or providers; 41% of respondents said they did and 59% said they did not.
Of those respondents who said they did accept such hospitality, many said such hospitality helped build relationships and gain further insight into a provider’s business.
But many respondents also said the acceptance of hospitality was subject to strict policies and limits.
As one noted: “The culture has changed and such offers are now very few and far between. Any such offers are declared and minuted.”
Another said: “We have a strict policy to ensure that hospitality is around genuine relationship building, happened no more than annually and excludes partners. We don’t accept gifts of more than trivial value.”
Of the 59% of respondents who said they did not accept corporate hospitality, many said there was “no such thing as a free lunch” and felt acceptance of such hospitality could lead to conflicts.
One said: “The current environment means there is an air of suspicion around accepting hospitality.”
Another added: “There is a strict corporate policy in place which does not allow this throughout our group companies.”
We then asked those respondents who can accept hospitality or gifts if there was a limit on what they could receive. Some 47% of respondents said there were limits, 37% said there were not and 16% said they did not know.
Limits on hospitality ranged from £10 to £250 but many respondents noted they had to record all offers made, whether they took them up or not and compliance approval was also often needed.
As one respondent noted: “Generally a £150 maximum, but also dependant on circumstances and relevance to any ongoing negotiations.”
Another added: “No ‘lavish’ hospitality. That involves a subjective decision and judgement call but it’s all disclosed and on public record so wise to err on the side of caution.”
A third agreed: “Soft limits. Anything that might be seen to be excessive or disproportionate in any way creating a sense of obligation should be avoided.”
In total, 121 scheme managers and trustees responded to the poll. To view the full results of the survey, click here.