Stewardship Code must go global to succeed, says Baroness Hogg
UK - Baroness Hogg of the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has called for an international Stewardship Code after revealing the reluctance of non-UK institutional investors to endorse a national framework.
Speaking at the National Association of Pension Fund's (NAPF) Investment Conference in Edinburgh, Sarah Hogg, chair of the FRC, said a number of discussions had taken place with sovereign wealth funds that had expressed an interest in the Stewardship Code
"I've had some very positive conversations with sovereign wealth funds, where they are extremely interested in the principle and supportive of the idea - but there is, of course, a caution there to publicly signing up to a single, national code, which is again why we have to internationalise the debate," she said.
She said this cooperation with the industry was critical to achieving a state of critical mass for the guidelines, as well as for demonstrating that it was a working guidebook.
Hogg added: "The Stewardship Code is the creation of the industry, not the FRC. When the industry got going on this endeavour, the government asked us if we'd take it on, and we said very clearly 'we'll only take it on if not just you as the government ask us to do it, but the industry as well'."
Lindsay Tomlinson, chairman of the NAPF, underlined the importance of cooperation to achieve good governance by arguing investors should not be expected to do everyone's work, nor should they take the blame for the financial crisis.
"Let's be realistic," he said. "We can continue to improve what is already a pretty good system of corporate governance, but if every other component of our social and political system is out at lunch, don't expect investors to do everyone else's work as well as their own."
He added that the UK system of corporate governance was envied by many, but that opportunities for improvement should be acknowledged and that making the Stewardship Code work was the most important change for the better that investors could directly influence.