A new stewardship-focussed steering group bringing together UK pension funds and asset managers has been officially launched.

The group, which was trailed in a recent report from a working group of a government-led asset management taskforce, is a joint initiative of the Investment Association (IA) and the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA).

The purpose of the group is to “examine how stewardship and a focus on long-term investment can be better integrated into the investment process to create sustainable value for savers and investors”.

As part of that it will aim to respond to issues raised by regulator the Financial Conduct Authority in a discussion paper about building a regulatory framework for effective stewardship. It will also explore the recommendations set out in the aforementioned taskforce report.

According to the new steering group, the issues it will consider include:

  • the proactive steps investment managers can take to understand and deliver clients’ stewardship priorities;
  • the role managers’ disclosures play in the information flow between them and asset owners in their approach to stewardship;
  • the role of asset owners’ attention to stewardship in manager selection and oversight; and
  • the role contractual relationship and non-contractual arrangements can play in embedding a long-term focus and clear stewardship expectations.

The group is co-chaired by Richard Butcher, chair of the PLSA, and Archie Struthers, global head of investment governance and oversight at Standard Life Aberdeen.

Other members of the group include Helen Dean, CEO of NEST; Rachel Elwell, CEO of Border to Coast Pension Partnership; Luba Nikulina, managing director, global head of research at Willis Towers Watson; Stuart O’Brien, partner at law firm Sackers; Jennifer Ryan, head of UK institutional client business at BlackRock; and Robert Walker, global co-head of asset stewardship at State Street Global Advisers.

The PLSA’s Butcher said the new group would “significantly move the cause of investing for good forward” and that “I’m personally and on behalf of the PLSA really glad to be involved”.

At Standard Life Aberdeen, Struthers said he was excited and felt privileged to be working with an “august group of stakeholder representatives”.

“Our industry is best served if we collaborate closely with asset owners – and their appointed representatives – to manage savers’ assets on the basis of a common understanding, using definitions of success that better reflect society’s expectations,” he said.

The launch of the steering group comes as the UK government has been consulting on a review of the country’s listings regime, with the railways pension scheme opposing the idea of allowing dual class share structures on the grounds it would be detrimental to the type of stewardship the government has been looking to encourage.

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