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Short-termist investment 'yesterday's game' – Tomorrow's Company

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Tomorrow’s Company, a global think tank based in London, has published a report aimed at helping pension scheme trustees achieve long-term, and sustainable, value from their investments.

The report, called ‘Tomorrow’s Value: Achieving long-term financial returns’, was launched yesterday evening and endorsed by leading figures from both the pensions and the wider financial world – including the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI).

Fiona Reynolds, managing director of the PRI, said the report would offer trustees “practical guidance on how to best deliver long-term financial value”.

She added that she hoped trustees would engage with the think tank’s work.

“They are the guardians of workers’ capital, a phrase that rightly highlights the nature of the assets under their stewardship,” she said.

Mervyn E King, a former South African Supreme Court judge and chairman of the eponymous King Committee on Corporate Governance, said trustees needed to weigh up a number of factors before committing to investments.

He said short-termist investment should be considered “yesterday’s game”.

“Does the company have a supply-chain code of conduct, and is it being monitored?” he asked. “Factors other than purely financial ones have to be included in the trustee’s investment analysis.”

The report provides trustee boards with a range of resources to take to their asset managers, and other suppliers, to ensure long-term value is achieved.

It also recommends trustee boards be given ‘comply or explain’ requirements on the mandates they set with regard to long-term value.

Speaking before the event, chief executive of Tomorrow’s Company, Tony Manwaring, told IPE the motive for the report was to address the incorrect presumption by many that trustees find long-term investing complex.

In the report, he called for trustees to ensure that the concepts in Tomorrow’s Value are embedded and reflected in their mandates.

The report also said trustees needed to balance both short and long-term considerations, with all investments being affordable and providing payment certainty.

Trustees should also be good stewards and support companies that create long-term value, while avoiding the ‘picking winners’ mentality, it added.

The report called for a new, and integrated, view of value, which is intergenerational, accounts for ESG and is both financial and non-financial.

“The short-term economic view of value, sustainability, and a responsible approach to investment all too often sit in a separate universe,” it said.

It also advised trustees on how to improve their investment chain and remove the systemic pressures they face from suppliers in focusing on short-termism.

The guide will provide trustees with a template letter for boards to engage with their investment suppliers, regarding moving towards more long-term value investing.

In addition, it gives trustees template agenda planning tools, allowing for meetings to be focused around long-term value investments.

Fellow endorsees include Keith Ambachtsheer from the International Centre for Pension Management, Catherine Howarth from campaign group ShareAction and several leading academics.

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