UK - Plans to increase fund manager focus on shareholder activism have been outlined by the Investment Management Association.
IMA chief executive Richard Saunders said at the NAPF Investment Conference, Edinburgh, that an initiative would be launched to encourage the “full implementation” of its statement of principles on shareholder activism, and to stimulate more collaboration between fund managers.
Saunders said that while a number of informal contacts and networks existed to compare notes on investee companies, these groups had no official line on shareholder activism.
He explained: “Crucially, these informal groups have no mandate to speak on behalf of the industry and do not have dialogue with government.
“This is where the IMA can add real value to the process.”
The Institutional Shareholders’ Committee – which comprises representatives from the Association of British Insurers, the Association of Investment Trusts, the IMA and the NAPF – has so far managed to fend off government attempts for legislation by publishing Principles on Shareholder Activism. But the conference heard that this was only likely to be a temporary respite.
Other speakers warned that the government would monitor the progress of initiatives and would still legislate if real progress was not achieved.
Coal Pension Trustees Services chief executive David Morgan explained: “The government will watch the outcome of these initiatives and if it is not seen that shareholders and their agents are taking this issue seriously legislation remains a real threat.”
Universities Superannuation Scheme director professor Sir Graeme Davies said individual pension schemes must actively push for an increase in collaboration between fund managers.
He stressed: “There are some issues which are so significant that we cannot discharge our fiduciary duties without collaboration.
“If engagement is going to be more effective, collaboration is going to have to become more effective and this means attention to the mechanisms we have for collaboration.”
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