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Co-op scheme adopts ESG fund for DC default

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The Co-operative Group Pension Scheme has selected the multi-asset fund within Legal & General Investment Management’s Future World range as the default fund for its defined contribution (DC) section.

Around £290m (€323m) of the £315m DC assets would therefore be invested in “companies and bonds that score heavily when it comes to environmental, social and corporate governance performance,” Co-op said in a statement.

Gary Dewin, director of pensions at the Co-op, said: “In making this decision the trustees were keen to provide a default fund for Co-op colleagues with a proven investment track record, but which also aligns with the Co-op’s own sustainability agenda and ethos.”

Emma Douglas, head of DC at LGIM, added: “We’re seeing increased demand from pension scheme members for investments which are aligned to their values – for example a recent survey we commissioned found that almost 60% of scheme members said it was important that fund managers actively consider ESG issues such as climate change, levels of diversity and executive pay when choosing the companies in which to invest their money.”

The multi-asset fund, which is aimed at DC schemes, was added to LGIM’s Future World range in June last year. It primarily holds equity and bond index funds that incorporate ESG considerations via tilts to the underlying standard indices, where this is deemed feasible or meaningful.

It also incorporates LGIM’s pledge to engage with companies to speed up action to tackle climate change, divesting holdings within the Future World funds where it judged this to be necessary.

The first Future World fund was developed in collaboration with HSBC Bank UK Pension Scheme, which has been using it as the equity default fund for its DC scheme from January 2017. The Future World Fund is a multi-factor global equities index fund that aims to address investment risks associated with climate change.

The £11bn (€12bn) Co-operative Group Pension Scheme is the retailer’s largest pension scheme. Its defined benefit section was closed to future service accrual in 2015.

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