UK – The head of corporate governance firm Pensions Investment Research Consultants has called for the “mess” surrounding the disclosure of executives’ pension entitlements to be untangled.
“We need to untangle this mess more,” said Alan MacDougall, managing director of PIRC, referring to the disclosure of executive pensions. “The key is transparency.”
The comments come as the European Commission has announced a consultation on the whole issue of executive pay and pensions.
MacDougall pointed to the fact that schemes often used different bases, and that pensions as a issue was already complex.
“Companies have got to grasp that this is an important part of remuneration,” MacDougall told a briefing. He said it was “fundamentally wrong” for executive pensions to be seen as diverging from those of workers.
“We’re going to have to ask some difficult questions,” he said, about what he termed “special treatment” for executive pensions – while employees were “denuded”.
MacDougall also said that, following a series of corporate scandals, it was not only companies, but their investors that will increasingly come under scrutiny. “Investor governance is on the agenda now.”
MacDougall was publicising PIRC’s new shareholder guidelines for 2004, which he said take place in a context of transition, with the new combined code starting to come into force towards the end of this year.
Paul Myners, the former chairman of asset management firm Gartmore and author of a key report on institutional investing, chaired the meeting.
He was critical of following indices too closely, pointing out that merely following an index did not necessarily meeting the investment needs of a pension fund. “Is that index relevant to the pension fund? – it isn’t.”
He also said fund managers were generally “relatively young and inexperienced” who just sat at their desks watching computer screens. “They don’t have any practical experience of leadership,” Myners said.