Board of Directors Terms & Definitions >
Pension Plan

Pension Plan


In the context of a corporate board of directors, a pension plan is a company-sponsored retirement plan that provides benefits to retired employees. The plan is typically overseen and administered by the board of directors or a committee appointed by the board, and the board is responsible for ensuring its proper funding and management to ensure it remains sustainable over the long term. Pension plans may be defined-benefit or defined-contribution plans, and their design and funding requirements are typically subject to government regulation. Effective management of a pension plan is an important aspect of corporate governance, as it impacts the financial well-being of retired employees and the financial stability of the company itself.

Board of Directors Terms: Pension Plan

A critical aspect of serving on the board of directors of any organization is the understanding of the various terms and benefits associated with the position. One such benefit is a pension plan – an essential element of a board member’s compensation package that provides financial security during retirement.

Understanding the Role of a Board of Directors

A board of directors has the primary responsibility of guiding an organization towards achieving its goals, overseeing its operations, and making strategic decisions. Board members are appointed or elected to serve a specific term and are typically compensated for their service.

Additionally, board members are expected to act in the best interest of the organization and its stakeholders, which may include shareholders, employees, customers, and the community. They must also ensure that the organization complies with legal and ethical standards, and that its financial statements are accurate and transparent. Board members may also be involved in fundraising and promoting the organization's mission and values.

What is a Pension Plan?

A pension plan is a retirement saving plan designed to provide a predetermined sum of money to an individual after retirement. It is a form of deferred compensation where the employer contributes funds on behalf of the employee during their working years, which are then invested to generate returns.

There are two main types of pension plans: defined benefit plans and defined contribution plans. In a defined benefit plan, the employer guarantees a specific amount of retirement income to the employee, based on factors such as salary and years of service. In a defined contribution plan, the employer and/or employee contribute a set amount of money to the plan, which is then invested. The retirement income is based on the performance of the investments and the amount of contributions made.

Types of Pension Plans

There are two primary types of pension plans: defined benefit plans and defined contribution plans.

A defined benefit plan provides a fixed sum to the employee upon retirement, based on a formula that takes into account the employee's salary, years of service, and other factors. These plans offer more substantial benefits and are typically offered by larger organizations. In contrast, a defined contribution plan, such as a 401(k), is a retirement savings plan where the employee can contribute a portion of their salary into an account, which may have matching employer contributions, and invest the funds in various investment options.

Benefits of a Pension Plan for Board Members

A pension plan offers several benefits to board members, including:

  • Long-term financial security during retirement
  • Income stability, as pension benefits are paid regularly throughout retirement
  • Greater retention of experienced board members, as the pension plan offers an incentive for them to stay on

Eligibility Criteria for Board Members to Avail the Pension Plan

The eligibility criteria for board members to enroll in the pension plan may vary from one organization to another. Typically, board members have to serve a specific term, such as three or five years, before they become eligible to enroll in the plan. However, some organizations may offer immediate eligibility for all board members.

How to Enroll for the Pension Plan as a Board Member

Once a board member becomes eligible to enroll in the pension plan, they need to fill out the necessary paperwork and submit it to the relevant authorities. The enrollment process may also involve selecting the contribution amount and investment options.

Contributions and Vesting Period for Board Members

The contributions made to the pension plan are typically a percentage of the board member's compensation, and the amount may vary depending on the organization's policies. The vesting period refers to the time it takes for a board member to become eligible for the pension benefits. Vesting can either be immediate or gradual, depending on the organization's policy. For example, if the vesting period is five years, the board member will have to serve for five years before becoming eligible for the pension benefits.

Funding Sources for the Pension Plan

The funding for the pension plan comes from the employer's contributions and the returns generated from investment of the contributed funds. The employer is responsible for ensuring that the plan is adequately funded to ensure it can meet the promised benefits in the future.

Investment Strategies for the Pension Fund

The investment strategy for the pension fund may vary depending on several factors such as the organization's risk tolerance, the pension fund's overall size, and the investment objectives. Most pension funds invest in a diversified portfolio of stocks, bonds, and other investment options to generate returns over the long term.

Tax Implications for Board Members Receiving a Pension

Board members receiving a pension are likely to be subject to income tax for the benefits they receive. However, the tax implications may vary depending on the pension plan's structure and the board member's tax bracket. It is advisable to consult with a tax professional to understand the tax implications of the pension plan benefits.

Maintaining Transparency in the Administration of the Pension Plan

The administration of the pension plan should be transparent to all board members to ensure that they can make informed decisions about their enrolment and contributions. Organizations should provide regular updates on the plan's performance, investment strategies, and any changes to the plan's policies.

Monitoring and Periodic Review of the Pension Plan by the Board

Board members must review the pension plan periodically to ensure it remains adequately funded, the investment strategies are appropriate to meet the plan's goals and objectives, and the benefits to the board members are consistent with the organization's financial health. Any discrepancies should be reviewed and addressed promptly to maintain the integrity of the pension plan.

Comparison with Other Retirement Benefits Offered to Board Members

Organizations may offer alternative retirement benefits in addition to a pension plan, such as 401(k) plans, health plans, or other incentives. Board members should compare the benefits of the various retirement plans offered to ensure they make the most informed decision about their retirement savings.


In conclusion, a pension plan is a critical component of a board member's compensation package, offering long-term financial security during retirement. Board members should take the time to understand the plan's benefits, eligibility criteria, contributions, and vesting period, as well as the investment strategies and tax implications. Regular monitoring and periodic review of the plan by the board can go a long way toward ensuring its integrity and sustainability.

Start an AdvisoryCloud

Join an advisory board