NETHERLANDS – Alistair Ross Goobey, chairman of Hermes Focus Asset Management and a long-time proponent of corporate governance, has highlighted the similarities between Dutch and UK corporate governance.
Goobey told the annual meeting of the Dutch pension governance foundation SCGOP that the Anglo-American system is the shareholder value model, in contrast to the more social Polder model. This has had its respective impact on the pension fund sector in both areas.
In contrast to the US landscape, UK corporate governance is not so different from the Dutch system, Ross Goobey stated. However, corporate governance was difficult to assess and implement.
“Companies are clearly responsible for their relations with third parties, but most importance still is being put on shareholder relations.”
The latter, Ross Goobey reiterated, still provide the risk capital, which forces companies to listen to their shareholders and return high enough yields on investment.
According to Ross Goobey, the Dutch transparency situation is very good, which will have its effect during shareholder meetings. It has given third parties such as pension funds increased power.
Additionally, board independence has come under pressure. As Dutch companies need to find independent board members within their own pond, they have not a lot of choices – and he called for the Tabaksblat Code to be have extra rules for this in future. He also called for a new system of remuneration for independent board members.
Roderick Munsters, chairman of SCGOP and chief investment officer of PGGM said Dutch pension funds (and investors) should take into account that international developments will have a direct impact on overall performance of the funds themselves.
Most of the current investment by pension funds, such as ABP, PGGM or SPF, is outside the Netherlands.
And he said there would be a lot of attention on the commission headed by outgoing ABP investment chief Jean Frijns, which will look at Tabaksblat implementation.
He added the foundation will be focusing increasingly on broadening its base and to support the full implementation of the approved structures. It also will be needed to assess the outcome of crises such as Ahold.