UK - The NAPF is planning to expand its voting services in a move that will heighten its competition with PIRC and Manifest.
The association said that it plans to start the expansion programme next spring when a “senior City figure” joins to replace voting issues director John Rogers, who left in May.
NAPF chief executive Christine Farnish said: “Expanding our work on corporate governance is a big priority.
“We want to build on our leading role in this area, providing an even better service for our subscribers, and providing companies with a valued authority on how to do the right thing on corporate governance.”
But the move has received a lukewarm response from corporate governance experts.
Morley Fund Management head of corporate governance Anita Skipper feels the NAPF’s proposals should be treated with caution.
She said: “We don’t want institutions to delegate their decision making to research organisations. That is a big danger. If the NAPF have too much power the pension fund managers will not take their responsibilities seriously.”
She added that fund managers must be encouraged to make a considered view of voting issues.
“The role of the research people is to tell us whether that company is meeting best practice. [And] the UK market has enough research at present.”
Another corporate governance expert said that widespread demands for greater shareholder activism and the threat of legislation to force pension funds to engage more had made the NAPF realise that it was not fulfilling its role in this area.
But Rexam Pension Plan group pensions and benefits manager Terry Faulkner welcomed the move which, he said, was “in the spirit” of the Myners review.
“The whole thrust is the relationship between trustees and voting and anything that helps the trustees to decipher and influence what the investment manager is doing is to be welcomed.”
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