USS competition event sparks call for a ‘real mandate’
AMSTERDAM - One of the leading lights behind the landmark long-term/ responsible investment mandate competition organised by the UK’s Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) and consultant Hewitt Bacon and Woodrow, says she hopes that the energy and innovation sparked by the event can be carried through to the longer-term with the development of a blueprint for a real mandate via a real pensions consortium.
Speaking at a seminar on the USS competition in Amsterdam yesterday organised by the European Pension Fund Investment Forum (EPFIF), Bridgeland, an associate at Hewitt Bacon & Woodrow and one of the main drivers behind the competition, commented: “Where I would like to get to, certainly within the next five years, would be to develop some kind of blueprint for the scenario where we had a real mandate and a real consortium and to see what this would look like. I think you need qualifying conditions for the pension funds as much as the fund management side of things because the kind of relationship we are talking about involves a close working relationship and commitment between pension funds and the fund management world. It’s commitment that the government might be able to get at in the UK, for example, through increased trustee training etc, but I think it is more the spirit of the endeavour that is crucial.”
The USS competition: “Managing pension fund assets as if the long term really did matter,” was eventually won by Henderson Global Investors with an entry that proposed a “dynamic benchmark” approach.
The competition launched in March 2003 sought entries from asset managers and individuals who could successfully respond to an imaginary 30 billion euro mandate “that operated in a genuinely long-term and genuinely responsible manner”.
Bridgeland said she would, however, like to make the competition a regular fixture for individuals in the hope of bringing in further ideas from outside of the fund management domain: “One can only encourage innovation once because next year everyone might just copy Henderson but add something else on to it – that’s the way that things tend to evolve.
“But I would like to have the competition for the individuals again, although I’m not sure it would be an annual event. I think it would encourage thoughts from outside of the industry and the regular players to come in.
“ Also it might help bring thoughts out from within the industry like this year where we had thoughts from our competitors and from fund managers which individuals helped to bring to the surface.”