Report of the Director of Corporate Services
The Director of Corporate Services submitted a summary of activity during the quarter ended 30 September 2019 by the Fund’s investment managers in fulfilment of their corporate governance and socially responsible investment obligations, including details of their voting activity on corporate resolutions for companies held in their portfolios.
The Director also submitted the quarterly report of the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) and the Quarterly Stewardship Report issued by LGPS Central Limited.
The Panel were informed that the Financial Reporting Council recently launched its updated UK Stewardship Code. The Code, which was to take effect from 1 January 2020, aimed to improve stewardship practices and sets a substantially higher standard than before. Existing signatories to the Code would be required to submit a Stewardship Report that met the FRC’s new reporting expectations by 31 March 2021, to continue to be listed as signatories to the UK Stewardship Code. Further information would be brought to the Panel next year on the work the Fund does to meet the criteria of the enhanced UK Stewardship Code.
The Panel noted that Fund’s current Investment Beliefs make limited reference to RI, however, after a focussed workshop and training event for Pensions Committee and Pensions Board Members, which also involved representatives from LGPS Central Ltd and an external investment manager; Members had agreed to update the Fund’s Investment Beliefs to include the following RI Beliefs. These new RI Beliefs would be included alongside the Fund’s wider Investment Beliefs, in an updated ISS which would be presented to Members for approval at the March 2020 Pensions Committee.
· Responsible investment can enhance long-term investment performance across all asset classes and should be integrated into all investment processes.
· A strategy of engagement, rather than exclusion, is more compatible with fiduciary duty and more supportive of responsible investment. The opportunity to influence through stewardship is waived with a divestment approach.
· Financial markets could be materially affected by climate change. Responsible investors should proactively manage this risk through stewardship activities in partnership with like-minded investors where feasible.
· Asset managers and investee companies with robust governance structures will be better positioned to handle future events. Decision making and performance are improved when there are diverse individuals involved.
RESOLVED – That the content of the Responsible Investment (RI) report, including the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) Quarterly Engagement Report (Appendix 2 to the report) and LGPS Central Limited (LGPSC) Quarterly Stewardship Report (Appendix 3 to the report), be noted.
RESOLVED – (a) That the briefing paper from Hymans Robertson be agreed.
(b) That the potential objectives set out in the briefing paper be supported.
(c) That delegated authority be given to the Director of Corporate Services to finalise the objectives to be set for Hymans Robertson, the Fund’s investment consultants, by 10 December 2019 in accordance with the Competition and Market Authority’s requirements.
(d) That the finalised objectives set for Hymans Robertson, as the Fund’s investment consultants, together with the detail of how those objectives will be measured be reported to the Panel at their next meeting.