FTSE 350 companies should publish more information about culture and working practices, according to a letter sent by the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA).
The association argued that better disclosure of the makeup of workforces and company policies “can have a material effect on a company’s performance over the long term”.
The letter has the backing of pensions minister Richard Harrington, the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) and Newton Investment Management.
Elizabeth Fernando, head of equities at USS Investment Management, said: “A company’s workforce is a key driver of its long-term performance and productivity, so good information on corporate culture and working practices is valuable to us as long-term investors.”
The PLSA published a “toolkit” titled ‘Understanding the worth of the workforce’ in July giving pension funds guidelines on the information they should be getting from companies in which they invest.
Elsewhere, UK pension funds’ aggregate funding position improved during October to 81.4%, according to the latest Pension Protection Fund index.
The 5,945 pensions in the index had a collective shortfall of £328.9bn (€369.2bn) at the end of last month, down by more than 21% from September’s figure.
However, the deficit is still more than £100bn higher than at the same point last year.
One fund on a more secure footing is the ICI Specialty Chemicals Pension Fund, which has secured a £140m buy-in with Pension Insurance Corporation.
The transaction is the third conducted by the pension and covers all pensioners not insured with the previous two deals, which took place in 2015.
Chairman of trustees Alan Bates said the fund’s de-risking strategy “allowed us to complete this transaction despite the current uncertainty in the markets”.
The £650m pension is separate from its much larger sister fund, the £10bn ICI Pension Fund, which has also undertaken a series of buy-ins over the past three years.
In other news, the UK government has been urged to consider abandoning guarantees for the state pension by a group of MPs.
The Work and Pensions Committee said the government should abandon the so-called ‘triple-lock’ for the payment in an effort to address “intergenerational unfairness”.
Frank Field, chair of the committee, warned that “the working young … face the daunting challenge of getting on in an economy skewed against them”.
The triple lock guarantees pensioners an increase of 2.5%, the inflation rate or the average earnings growth rate – whichever is higher.
The Work and Pensions Committee instead suggested a “smoothed earnings link” to keep increases at least in line with inflation, and a lower limit for payments linked to average earnings.