The UK government is considering putting long-term socially responsible investing (SRI) at the heart of the proposed National Pensions Savings Scheme, an official has said.
Asked about the role of SRI in the NPSS, Peter Askins, head of policy on pension fund trustees and scheme administration at the Department for Work and Pensions, said: “We hear what you say, watch this space.”
“Obviously we are looking at all design options.”
He praised the SRI credentials of his boss, pensions reform minister Stephen Timms, saying he has an “understanding of the issues in play”.
Timms said there was a change in the public mood about SRI, saying it was “not only about doing good but about doing well”.
But he noted some resistance to SRI among pension fund advisers, although certain public funds, such as the Universities’ Superannuation Scheme were “pioneering a trail others will want to follow”.
And he said a recent report by law firm Freshfields would help to clarify ideas about fiduciary responsibility and ethical investing.
They were speaking at a presentation organised by Insight Investments’ to mark the publication of a book called ‘Responsible Investment’ - edited by Insight’s Rory Sullivan and Craig Mackenzie.
Askins told the meeting that despite all the progress on SRI, the intellectual argument had not yet been won. “They have yet to be convinced intellectually that it is worthwhile,” Askins
said of some in the investment community.