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LGPS board to launch consultation on investment-cost disclosure code

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The advisory board for the UK’s local government pension schemes (LGPS) will begin consulting on its draft code on transparency for asset manager investment fees.

The plan is to launch the code this autumn; the timeline for consultation was agreed at a meeting of the LGPS Board on 1 August.

The code will be for asset managers to sign up to on a voluntary basis, by which they commit to annual reporting of investment costs based on an agreed template.

They would also be agreeing for a third-party audit to be carried out of the disclosed data.

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The template is the core of the code and provides for disclosure of costs under headings such as management costs, performance costs and transaction costs.

The latter are broken down into aspects such as fees for research commission and entry/exit fees.

Jeff Houston, secretary at the LGPS scheme advisory board, told IPE consultation on the code would start in the “next couple of days”.

Feedback will be sought from asset managers, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) and LGPS funds.

The CIPFA is targeting transparency for a revised accounting standard issued for statutory annual reports and accounts, with the code also the outcome of broader concerns over investment costs, or what has also been termed “value for money”.

The Investment Association (IA) is planning to create a framework for investment cost disclosure and, according to an LGPS board meeting document, is considering adopting the LGPS template “as a building block” for its code.

Houston, who is also head of pensions at the Local Government Association, is one of the members of an independent group recently formed to advise the IA on its plan for the disclosure framework.

According to the LGPS board document, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) “expressed an interest in the work [on the code], and, although this is very early days, [wishes] to discuss the template with the FCA for potentially wider application”.

In March this year, the Financial Consumer Services Panel (FCSP), a statutory body, called for the FCA, the DWP and the UK pensions regulator, together with industry bodies, to develop and implement a new standard for collecting data on costs and charges for UK pension funds.

The report was based on research from Chris Sier, academic and co-founder of the Transparency Task Force, who recommended that UK pension funds follow the Dutch model

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the UK regulator for the investment management industry, is carrying out a comprehensive review of the asset management industry, including whether it delivers “value for money”.

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