UK - Pension scheme influence on companies could be weakened by the Higgs Review on corporate governance, experts claim.
They believe Derek Higgs’s proposals that pension funds should attend annual general meetings “where practicable” may weaken their influence.
The proposal is part of Higgs’s review on the effectiveness of non-executives published last week.
But Isis Asset Management head of corporate governance Richard Singleton said Higgs’s statement could enable companies to dismiss queries because an investor did not attend the meeting.
Singleton also disagreed with the review’s suggestion that senior non-executive directors should attend shareholder meetings.
He said the responsibility should be spread among all non-execs.
He added: “Having the role split as widely as possible is a much safer way of preserving independence and improving the quality of discussion between non-executive directors with principal directors.”
Morley Fund Management head of corporate governance Anita Skipper pointed out it was “physically impossible to attend” every AGM.
She said: “There are times when investors have concerns about a company and they should be at the AGM, but they are not.”
Skipper explained that most engagement and interaction between institutional investors and companies took place in the lead up to the meeting.
All relevant information was available before or directly after the meeting but with over 700 meetings per year, it was not physically possible to attend them all.
The top stories this week were the High Court's decision to block the £12bn annuity transfer from Prudential to Rothesay Life, and a separate court ruling that 'raises the bar' for pension rectification exercises.
Guaranteed minimum pension (GMP) equalisation has soared to the top of pension schemes' to-do lists, with 58% stating it is a priority project, research from Equiniti has revealed.
Professional Pensions is holding its defined contribution (DC) conference on 4 September.