The Minister for Pensions, Guy Opperman, and pension schemes (including NILGOSC) have called upon asset managers to allow asset owners to have more say when it comes to casting votes at the Annual General Meetings of the companies in which they are invested in.
Amid increased focus on the risks that pension savers face from climate change as well as the critical role that asset owners can have in influencing company behaviour, members of the Occupational Pensions Stewardship Council (OPSC) representing over £500bn in assets under ownership, wrote to 44 asset managers in December 2021. The letter highlights that despite representing the interests of millions of pension savers, all too often asset owners are not included in decision making on voting.
Voting is a critical, public signal of pension scheme stewardship priorities, and is part of a broader approach that can deliver better outcomes for savers. Although NILGOSC holds its assets in segregated accounts which allows it to set its own voting policy and engage with managers about voting decisions, many other pension funds are invested in pooled accounts with little to no say over how votes are cast on their behalf. NILGOSC believes that stewardship has the power to make a huge difference, and the ability to influence voting decisions should be available to all asset owners.
Members of the OPSC are calling on asset managers to pay more attention to the voting priorities of pension schemes. Doing so can also help schemes plan their strategies to reduce risks to funds under management from climate change, and to make the most of opportunities in the transition to Net Zero.
More information on the OPSC can be found at Occupational Pensions Stewardship Council. The OPSC was established to promote and facilitate high standards of stewardship of pensions assets. It was created by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) following recommendations from the Asset Management Taskforce. The Council provides schemes with a forum for sharing experience and provides practical support on stewardship.