More than 25 UK pension investors, including many heavyweights, have signed up to form a new body dedicated to promoting and facilitating high standards of stewardship.
Set up by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the Occupational Pensions Stewardship Council is based on an idea mooted by a government-led asset management group last year.
According to the DWP, the body will provide a platform for sharing best practice and research, supporting participating schemes to “understand the immediate ways that stewardship facilitates both sustainable financial returns, and better short, medium and long-term outcomes for hard-working pension savers”.
”Stewardship activities which pension schemes may be able to play a more influential role in include shareholder resolutions, climate change and corporate governance,” the DWP’s statement added.
The Council met for the first time yesterday.
The schemes that have signed up so far make for an impressive list*. They include Universities Superannuation Scheme and BT Pension Scheme, the two largest UK pension funds, NEST Corporation and other defined contribution master trusts, and three local authority pension asset pools and several individual public sector funds.
Together they are responsible for more than £550bn (€640bn) of assets, according to DWP.
Members of the stewardship council will set the annual work plan and make decisions together, according to DWP.
They will be supported by an engagement group comprised of members of the Council and “key stakeholders,” it added.
Guy Opperman, UK pensions minister, said: “The Occupational Pensions Stewardship Council will improve pension schemes’ and asset managers’ stewardship and engagement, helping companies ensure they are fit for purpose in the 21st Century.
“It seems to me that the role of pension schemes, trustees and asset managers over the next five to 10 years will be utterly vital in the passage of this country, and the entire world, to net zero.”
*Members of the Occupational Pensions Stewardship Council as at 8 July:
BAE Systems Pension Scheme
BBC Pension Trust Ltd
Border to Coast Pensions Partnership
Brunel Pension Partnership
BT Pension Scheme
Church of England Funded Pension Scheme
Creative Pension Trust
Cushon Master Trust
HSBC Bank Pension Trust (UK) Limited
London Pensions Fund Authority (LPFA)
Lothian Pension Fund
Nationwide Pension Fund (Nationwide section)
NatWest Group Pension Fund
Northern Ireland Local Government Officers’ Superannuation Committee (NILGOSC)
Reed Elsevier Pension Scheme
Superannuation Arrangements of the University of London (SAUL)
The Co-operative Pension Scheme (PACE)
Shell (Royal Dutch Shell) Contributory Pension Fund
Tesco Plc Pension Scheme
Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS)