UK - Large pension funds are taking a more proactive approach to engaging with companies to maximise returns for scheme members, a new research by the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) reveals.

"Five years after Myners, there can be no doubt that institutional investors have raised their game. Pension funds are asking investment managers to engage with companies and demanding regular progress reports. They are devoting more resources to engagement themselves and they believe that corporate governance has improved as a result," NAPF chief executive Joanne Segars commented on the report.

Among the sample of 41 of the largest UK pension funds nine out of ten are familiar with the content of the Institutional Shareholder' Committee's Statement of Principles, the NAPF found. Most have implemented them "with the remainder pursuing similar objectives through other means".

Half of the pension funds surveyed subscribe to voting reference agencies. "However, agencies' recommendations are adopted only after careful thought. Eight out of 10 subscribers have rejected a recommendation at some stage", the report notes.

Almost half of the pension funds disclose voting positions on their shares to members on request. The majority thinks corporate governance standards in the UK are improving. None believe they are getting worse.