Some 96% of trustees are ready for upcoming ESG regulations which will require schemes to agree their approach to responsible investment, according to Hymans Robertson.
The consultancy's research among 51 defined benefit (DB) trustees - conducted between June and August this year - comes ahead of the changes, which will come into force on 1 October. The rules will also require schemes to update their Statement of Investment Principles.
However, Hymans Robertson found 84% of trustees said they have faced challenges implementing a responsible investment strategy in line with the upcoming rules.
These included lack of clarity around The Pensions Regulator's (TPR) expectations (43%), low engagement from members (44%), limited time and resource (40%), and limited knowledge and understanding around responsible investment issues (40%).
Despite this, nearly three quarters (70%) were supportive of the regulations. Over a quarter (27%) were strongly supportive, while just 7% opposed them. Some 65% of trustees claimed they knew a lot about the regulations. Meanwhile, just under a quarter said the language used around responsible investing was not well defined and clear.
The same survey found just under half (49%) of pension trustees felt implementing a responsible investment strategy will improve investment returns, and just over a third said the scheme or scheme members will be the main beneficiary of the returns.
Hymans Robertson head of responsible investment Simon Jones was pleased with the "enthusiasm" and "support" trustees had given to the upcoming rules.
He said: "They have clearly overcome the challenges they've faced and given a great amount of time to discuss the changes in their meetings."
Furthermore, Jones noted that it was encouraging to see trustees taking action in response to the regulations.
He added: "While trustees' support for, enthusiasm about and commitment to these regulations is a big step in the right direction for ensuring responsible investment is at the heart of investment decision making, it shouldn't be considered ‘job done'.
"It is vital that responsible investment doesn't drop off the priority list once the deadline for meeting the regulatory requirements has passed, but rather that trustees continue to embed responsible investing into their day-to-day activities.
"Trustees need to continue to question their investment managers and their advisors, recognising that challenge can be a catalyst for improving standard.
"But they should also consider whether ESG issues can be more directly integrated into their investment arrangements as the reallocation of capital is what ultimate will create real change."
TPR updated its DC investment guidance in June to reflect changes to the upcoming regulations.
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