The UK’s ACCESS Pool has appointed Pension and Investment Research Consultants (PIRC) as its external ESG and responsible investment (RI) advisor following a national local government pension scheme (LGPS) framework procurement to implement the pool’s phase II of responsible investment guidelines.

PIRC has been appointed to advise upon, and monitor, developments within ESG and RI reporting requirements and arrangements, as well as review the pool’s voting guidelines and make recommendations to enhance the voting impact in line with its RI guidelines.

PIRC will also review the pool’s RI Guidelines and ensure they are developed in line with best practices, as well as assist with stewardship gap analysis and support any future ACCESS Pool Stewardship Code submission.

Lastly, PIRC’s role is to understand the current and future ESG and RI related challenges faced by, and opportunities open to, institutional asset owners with particular reference to reporting requirements.

Starting point

PIRC will use the ACCESS RI guidelines as the starting point to deliver a universal reporting framework. This, the pool said, will incorporate the expectations it place on asset managers into the framework.

These expectations include outlining responsible investment principles, main risks, how ESG is incorporated into investment decisions, stewardship, voting and engagement activities and outcomes, and reporting against Task Force for Climate Disclosure.

ACCESS, which has pooled assets of £35bn, said the rapid evolution of ESG issues means there is a large volume of information to process. PIRC’s sole focus on ESG issues and its knowledge sharing process will help ensure the pool stays up to date with developments and best practices, it added.

Mark Kemp-Gee, chair of the ACCESS joint committee, said the pool will benefit from PIRC’s experience which will ensure that its new initiatives and best practices are up to the mark.

He said: “It is another major step in ACCESS’ progress as we expand our ESG and responsible investment oversight for our stakeholders’ investments.”

Alan MacDougall, managing director of PIRC, added that ACCESS has a clear set of priorities focused on delivering value and the views of its 11 LGPS administering authorities.

He continued: “We are therefore looking forward to using our ESG and LGPS expertise to work with ACCESS and the 11 authorities to develop and strengthen the pool’s ESG and responsible investment policies and practices in line with their distinct stewardship approach and requirements.”

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