GLOBAL - Calls for ever-tougher corporate governance reforms continue to be made throughout the pensions investment world.
Corporate Governance Spain (Soler-Padro), a member of European Corporate Governance Service, has publicly expressed disappointment at the conclusions of the new Spanish Committee on Corporate Governance Reform, commonly known as ‘Aldama Committee’.
Jacinto Soler-Matutes, principal at CG Spain said: “Compared with recent changes in markets considered to demand higher standards of corporate governance, Spanish practice appears impervious to change.
“The Aldama code fails to address the significant governance issues that make Spain less attractive as a capital market compared with the US or UK.”
In the UK, corporate governance experts PIRC, which advises a third of local authority pension schemes, expressed disappointment at the main recommendations in the final report of the Co-ordinating Group on Accounting and Audit Issues and the review of the Regulatory Regime of the Accountancy Profession.
And the Trades Union Congress has demanded that investment fund managers reveal how they vote on controversial issues in companies they hold shares in. To throw light on how fund managers vote the TUC is surveying its records during 2002. The TUC said this information will help union pension fund trustees when they are hiring or firing fund managers.
The SEC in the US has decided that mutual funds should be obliged to publicly reveal how they vote. Thirty UK pension funds wrote a letter giving their support to the proposals which were approved four-to-one by SEC executives.
Also in the US, the Blue-Ribbon Commission on Public Trust and Private Enterprise is spearheading a campaign proposing checks and balances on the power, actions and performance of the chief executive role.
However, New York state comptroller Alan Hevesi has criticised the SEC for watering down corporate governance reform. Hevesi cast himself in the role of one who would, if necessary, lead the investor fight to better corporate governance if the US government or the SEC was unwilling or unable to tackle the task at hand.
The move to better corporate governance is also driving new products in the area. For example, institutional investors are being offered a single source of research and voting advice on corporate governance and corporate social responsibility with the launch of PIRC's new GovernancePlus Service.
And Institutional Shareholder Services, a provider of proxy voting and corporate governance data services, has expanded its Corporate Governance Quotient, a ranking system designed to assist institutional investors in evaluating the quality of corporate boards and the impact its governance practices may have on performance.
A survey by Opinion Research Business found 60% of UK fund managers and 74% of US managers had confidence in UK-audited accounts while 19% of UK fund managers and 60% of their US counterparts had confidence in US-audited accounts.
The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has granted 11 master trusts extensions to apply for authorisation, as it confirms it has received 22 applications ahead of the 31 March deadline.
Aegon Master Trust, Fidelity Master Trust and Ensign have sent off their authorisation applications to The Pensions Regulator (TPR).
Self-administered pension funds spent £15bn on payments to pensioners in Q4 2018, but received just £12bn in contributions (net of refunds), Office for National Statistics (ONS) data reveals.
Aberdeen Standard Investments (ASI) and Gresham House are to team up to form a joint venture.