Corporate governance

Lehman seeks $10bn clawback in Barclays suit

Bank regulation but at what cost to the economy?

Myners says ISC code is not strong enough

Invesco Perpetual launches split cap

Body created to lobby for the financial sector

TPG investors can cut exposure to financial fund

Terra Firma writes down EMI value

Property portfolios make gains

Cut tax relief for the wealthy, says TUC

Protesters lash out at Goldman

Archbishop of Canterbury attacks City culture

Sophia Grene

The Irish National Pensions Reserve Fund is getting a rough ride at the moment. Having been forced to pick up the tab for the recapitalisation of the Irish banks (some €7bn worth of preference shares in Bank of Ireland and Allied Irish Banks), it is about to lose its chief executive, John Corrigan, who moves upstairs to replace his boss, head of the National Treasury Management Agency, the NPRF’s parent body.

This will not be a pleasant job, but nor will running the NPRF. As well as easing in a new chief executive, it has to work on reconciling its responsible investment policy (it has signed up to the UN Principles for Responsible Investing and is a member of the Carbon Disclosure Project) with its legal mandate to “secure the optimal total financial return provided the level of risk to the moneys held or invested is acceptable”.

According to human rights advocate Mark Cumming, the contradiction between this and the NPRF’s own stated intention to “incorporate ESG factors into investment research, analysis and decision making” stands in the way of its developing coherent policies.

If the Irish government can push through amending legislation requiring the NPRF to bail out the banks, surely it should be able to rewrite the NPRF’s mandate in order to allow it to take long term non-financial risk factors into account and ensure Irish pensioners will not profit from destructive corporate practices such as human rights abuses or uncontrolled environmental damage.

Ruth Sullivan

One meeting to watch out for today is the sustainable stock exchanges event in New York, hosted by several United Nations’ bodies including the the UN Principles for Responsible Investment.

The aim of the gathering is to take stock of how the world’s exchanges can work together with investors, regulators and companies to increase corporate transparency and encourage responsible long-term investing.

This will involve tackling environmental, social and corporate governance issues. Eiris, the Ethical Investment Research Services, says one of the key drivers will be to include ESG disclosure into listing rules and corporate governance standards.

Paul Abberley, chief executive of Aviva Investors London says little support from listing authorities “who play a crucial role in setting out what companies report to the market” has come so far.

Many present today will be hoping to discuss measures to encourage best practice among companies through sustainable indices. Some exchanges such as Johannesburg Stock Exchange Socially Responsible index or the Deutsche Borse Daxglobal Alternative Energy Index, and the Indonesian exchange have already done this but there is plenty of scope for others to follow.

Global stock exchanges are likely to hear some challenging calls to take action.

Ruth Sullivan

Norway’s Government Pension Fund seems to have it all. Oil wealth, decent returns and a responsible approach to investment.

The decision to put part of its oil wealth to work for the country’s pension pot is one that makes many pension savers in other parts of the world gnash their teeth in envy, particularly if they happen to live in a resource-rich country that has not invested its black gold in the same way, such as the UK. 

Sophia Grene

Fund managers are in the unhappy position of being able to see the oncoming train but unable to move because their hands are tied. Even though they think climate change is a source of investment risk, their short-sighted clients are not letting them do anything about it.

According to research by FairPensions, nearly 90 per cent of fund managers think climate change is an investment issue, but feel they can’t do anything because of short-term analysis and lack of demand from pension funds.

Pauline Skypala

Pension saving is too expensive. According to a report from the Royal Society of Arts, up to 40 per cent of pension savings disappear in fees and costs under the UK’s current system of private pension provision.

Personal accounts, the national scheme to be rolled out in the UK from 2012, are designed to tackle this problem. People will be automatically enrolled into the scheme, removing the marketing and selling costs that have helped make personal pensions so expensive.

But the £3,600 annual limit on contributions to personal accounts is too low, says the RSA report.

Sophia Grene

Gillian Tett of this parish is wondering why more bankers are not in jail. She thinks it’s partly because all this finance stuff is too complicated for the poor little lawyers to understand. But there may be other reasons, like judges who think they should take the working environment of wrongdoers into account. Like the fantasy judge imagined by the Jets in Westside Story, who lets off a hoodlum because he pleads a tough childhood, this New Jersey judge seems to think working in a “pernicious and pervasive … culture of corruption” is a mitigation of accuseds’ offence.

Sophia Grene

Octopus Investments has just passed the £1bn mark in funds under management. Simon Rogerson, the CEO, and Guy Myles, managing director, are celebrating by shaving their heads.

This traditional asset management ritual will take place in a few weeks time at Westminster Boating Base.

The question FTfm is asking itself: What will Larry Fink do when the merged Blackrock/BGI hits $3 trillion?

Pauline Skypala

criticism

Lord Myners: criticism

Various fund managers have owned up to being a bit pathetic when it came to challenging powerful banking figures. They have been roundly castigated by the likes of Lord Myners and Hector Sants for their failure to act as responsible owners, and cannot expect to escape notice in Sir David Walker’s review of corporate governance in the banking industry when that is published later this week.

No doubt they could and should have been a bit less accommodating of banks’ plans for world domination, but in the end there is limit to the sanction they can apply. Passive trackers, which probably hold the biggest stakes, cannot threaten to sell, and active managers rarely hold large enough stakes to make selling much of an issue for a company.

Ruth Sullivan

It's not just banking regulation that needs tightening

It’s not just banking regulation that needs tightening but private pension schemes are badly in need of better governance and stronger oversight.

The OECD is calling for both in new guidance issued today, rolling out a blueprint with recommendations on governance, funding, investment and the rights of pension plan members.

About the blog

FTfm is no longer updated but it remains open as an archive.

FTfm's specialist writing team offer their insights into the global fund management industry.

About the authors

Pauline Skypala has been editor of FTfm for four years having previously been deputy personal finance editor. She joined the FT in 1999 and has been writing on savings and investment issues throughout her career.

Steve Johnson, FTfm deputy editor, has been a journalist for 17 years, 10 of which have been with the FT.


Sophia Grene, reporter on FTfm, has been a financial journalist in print and online for 12 years.

Ruth Sullivan has worked as a financial/business journalist and foreign correspondent and for the past 10 years has been at the FT.

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