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.
Most respondents in this week's Pensions Buzz do not think businesses should be able suspend AE contributions if in financial distress.
Former BHS owner Dominic Chappell has lost the appeal against his section 72 conviction and sentence for failing to hand over information to The Pensions Regulator (TPR).
This week's top stories include Marsh and McLennan Companies agreeing to buy JLT, and the home secretary calling for AE to be scrapped in a no-deal Brexit scenario.
Lesley Titcomb says the watchdog wants closer interactions with pension funds to spot problems sooner and act before having to use its more stringent powers