UK - Leading pensions schemes are unlikely to follow the £2.7bn J. Sainsbury Pension Scheme which is publishing short-term performance figures on its new website.
The J. Sainsbury Pension Scheme publicly affirmed its intention to model itself on the principles set down in Myners’ institutional investment review when it launches the website. But other major pension schemes have said that they will not be following its lead.
The £18bn Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) – which publishes yearly performance figures on its own website – claimed that Sainsbury’s publication of quarterly performance figures went too far.
USS chief executive David Chynoweth said: “We do not believe that the publication of short-term performance figures is of benefit to anyone except the investment managers themselves.
“We appraise managers over a longer period of time, we do not feel that the dissemination of information about performance over a period shorter than a year is at all a sensible thing for a pension fund to do.”
But J. Sainsbury Pension Scheme manager Geof Pearson said: “There are no secrets with our fund. With the MFR disappearing we think the transparency of the investments gives people security.”
“You cannot tell me that if the investments halved in value that would not undermine peoples confidence, no matter if the employers says he is going to honour its commitments.”
Communications manager Louise Harris at the £14bn Railways Pension Fund was also sceptical about publishing regular updates on investment performance.
She said: We do not want to worry people because investments do go up and down and the benefits will still be guaranteed to be based on the final salary.
But Pearson hit back and said: “We are aware that there are dangers in looking at investment on a short term basis.
“We say though it is the members money and therefore not only the consultants, trustees and managers should know what is going on”.
Two other leading pension funds highlighted the cost of website design and maintenance and minimal internet access among its members as factors in not following Sainsbury’s lead.
However both schemes were in favour in principle of revealing investment information through a website.
The www.jspensions.com website announced last week that its funds had declined in value by 9.4pc in the period up to March 2001. It also announced plans to increase its allocation in bonds.
By David Rowley
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