The National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) is launching a programme of Stewardship Accountability Forums to offer pension funds of all sizes the opportunity to quiz asset managers on their stewardship activities on behalf of pension savers.
The first Stewardship Accountability Forum takes place on Monday, 24 November 2014 at the NAPF’s offices in central London. CEOs and senior representatives from Aviva Investors, Legal and General Investment Management (LGIM) and UBS Global Asset Management – with a combined total of £1 trillion assets under management (AUM) – will participate in the first event. Pension funds are encouraged to attend to question these senior individuals on their organisations’ stewardship activities.
Stewardship activity aims to promote the long-term success of companies in such a way that the ultimate providers of capital – in this instance long-term investors like pension funds – also prosper . These forums build on the NAPF’s Stewardship Disclosure Framework and its aims to provide greater transparency on the stewardship policies and activities of asset managers who are signatories to the UK Stewardship Code.
According to the NAPF’s annual Engagement Survey 2013 , 96% of pension funds recognise they have stewardship responsibilities, which include engaging with companies and voting. And research among consumers by the NAPF  found that 60% of scheme members would like their employer to favour pension providers with a convincing and long-term approach to stewardship of their investments.
 Preface of the UK Stewardship Code .
 NAPF Engagement Survey 2013 , published November 2013.
 What do pension scheme members expect of how their savings are invested? – an NAPF research report , published July 2014.
Will Pomroy, Policy Lead: Stewardship and Corporate Governance, NAPF, commented:
“As NAPF research has shown there is a strong latent interest amongst pension savers for pension funds taking an active interest in the long-term interest of the companies in which they invest. And with an additional 6-9 million people saving into a pension in the next few years due to automatic enrolment the importance of good stewardship has never been greater.
“These new Stewardship Accountability Forums are an opportunity for pension funds to press some of the most senior figures in the asset management industry on their organisations’ stewardship activities and whether what they say matches what they do in practice.
“Pension funds of all sizes are welcome to come along to these sessions. We are particularly keen to encourage pension fund trustees who might not usually have access to these asset managers to attend and raise questions on behalf of their members.”
Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, commented:
“This is a valuable step in developing good practice in the investment and pensions industry, building on the Stewardship Code. I welcome the NAPF’s latest plans, which should help improve dialogue between asset managers and their clients on stewardship activity. I would encourage asset managers who have not done so already to consider disclosing against the Framework, and hope that pension funds will use the planned meetings to quiz their asset managers closely about their approach to stewardship.”
David Styles, Director Corporate Governance at the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) which oversees the UK Stewardship Code, commented:
“The FRC is keen that stewardship and the Stewardship Code become embedded in the culture of all participants in the capital markets. The FRC therefore supports activities that promote asset owners holding to account their asset managers on their stewardship responsibilities with the goal of enhancing the quality of engagement between investors and companies to help improve long-term risk-adjusted returns to shareholders.”
Euan Munro, Chief Executive, Aviva Investors, said:
“Although asset managers are expected to comply or explain against the Stewardship Code, asset owners do not hold them to account to any great extent. It is imperative that pension trustees consider the long-term stewardship of the capital their funds are invested in as a key responsibility and this forum represents a great opportunity to progress in this area.”
Attendance is limited to pension funds only. For more information or to register to attend our first forum please email [email protected] .
Notes to editors:
The NAPF is the voice of workplace pensions in the UK. We speak for over 1,300 pension schemes that provide pensions for over 17 million people and have more than £900 billion of assets. We also have 400 members from businesses supporting the pensions sector.
We aim to help everyone get more out of their retirement savings. To do this we spread best practice among our members, challenge regulation where it adds more cost than benefit and promote policies that add value for savers.
*AUM TOTAL FIGURE sourced from Aviva Investors website, LGIM website and . Exchange rate from FT on 21 October 2014 used to convert UBS AUM in Swiss Francs to GBP Sterling.
Lucy Grubb, Head of Media and PR, NAPF, 020 7601 1726 or 07713 073023, [email protected]
Eleanor Bennett, Press Officer, NAPF, 020 7601 1718 or 07825 171 446, [email protected]