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UK investors call for fund transparency, stewardship from managers

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  • City of London

The majority of savers within pension funds would like to receive performance information and transparency over the markets and companies in which they are invested.

Research from the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) – looking into what scheme members expected from their investments – found members ranked transparency as the second-most important issue after costs.

Sixty-five percent of respondents said charges were important when their employers assessed investment and pension providers, although 48% said investment transparency was also important.

Also, a majority of those surveyed said they would pay a 10% higher charge to their investment manager if they actively engaged in stewardship.

Some 49% said they would want to be invested with an investment manager that made a specific effort in ethical investing, even if this resulted in lower returns.

Despite regular assertions to keep communications to members simple, and avoid complex information regarding asset allocation, 65% said they would appreciate information on investment allocations.

More than 60% of respondents said they would be interested in information regarding how pensions were invested either generally, by industry, by country and in specific companies.

Regarding fund performance, the majority of investors said they would want to see the performance of the investment fund on an annual and tri-annual basis, with a slight emphasis on more long-term performance.

However, despite savers emphasising their preference for stewardship from their providers, only 15% would accept receiving information on voting records at annual general meetings.

The NAPF said, with an average 71% of defined contribution assets invested in equities, now was time to understand the investor preference towards stewardship.

The organisation began its own initiative to promote stewardship by asking asset managers to complete a ‘framework’ detailing their engagement policies.

However, earlier this year, the NAPF was forced to name and shame managers that had not completed the framework, despite having signed up to do so.

“The research findings presented within this report suggest the level of awareness as to how and where pension savings are invested is low,” the NAPF said.

“However, there is a significant latent interest amongst pension scheme members in knowing more about where their savings are invested.”

The research from the NAPF comes as the UK Investor Forum appoints its first chairman.

The forum was a key recommendation of the 2012 Kay Review and aims to promote the value of long-term investing by enhancing institutional investor and company engagement.

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