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.
Occupational pension provision has continued to grow in value, but there remains large variance in incomes across the pensioner age group, according to latest government data.
Defined benefit (DB) schemes could have an aggregate surplus by 2021 under Pension Protection Fund (PPF) projections, its strategic plan for 2018 to 2021 reveals.
Investment consultants are failing to recommend products that outperform net of fees, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has said as its investigation into the market continues.
This week's top stories included coverage of the much-anticipated defined benefit (DB) white paper and the sector's reaction.