Fortnightly News Blog – 11th November 2021

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ESG/Responsible investing/Climate change/B Corp

The route to responsible investing

With COP26 now into its second week, there is only one place to start, and that’s with the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) Climate Change Adaption report, which you can read here. In the report’s foreword Sacha Sadan, the FCA’s newly minted head of ESG notes that climate change is a significant concern to consumers who are wanting to do their bit to solve the crisis. “They need clear, consistent information and new innovative solutions, as well as active stewardship, to achieve their aims,” he says.

Cue the FCA discussion paper (DP 21/4) on the much-trailed Sustainability Disclosure Requirements (SDR) and investment labels. You will find the full report here, and it forms part of the Government’s Greening Finance: A Roadmap to Sustainable Investing, which was published in October.

Unsurprisingly, there is no end of media coverage and ICYMI, you can read Investment Week’s report here, and Portfolio Adviser’s report here.

Boardroom burnout

As a fund board director are you feeling a little exhausted by all this discussion about ESG, responsible investing and climate change? Well, turns out you’re in good company according to Dottie Schindlinger for Yahoo. She cites a survey from Diligent Institute, and has four fixes to deal with the situation, to get it right, and quickly. Read them here.

Holding to account

B Corp Finance Coalition UK, made up of 11 certified B Corporations from across UK’s finance industry, is adding their voice to the myriad calls for finance firms to commit themselves to “higher stakeholder accountability”. Investment Week has the story here.

Meanwhile, Ignites Europe, in its coverage here, points to a group of UK institutional investors who have launched an initiative to hold asset managers to account for their claims and commitments on climate change. Good plan.

Want to cut through the noise and get to the heart of what fund board directors really need to know and be considering about regarding Responsible Investment?

The FBC live session next week will do just that. FBC corporate members who haven’t yet signed up to join senior adviser Brandon Horwitz and his panel of experts from St James’s Place, HSBC and Liontrust to discuss what fund boards can and should be doing about Responsible Investing, can do so here. The 60-min digital meeting is on the 16 November and starts at 2pm GMT.

Gender finances

Needed: more female engagement with investments

Dame Helena Morrissey, the chair-apparent at AJ Bell is leading a campaign on behalf of the investment platform to encourage more women to engage with investing and close the country’s £1.7 trillion gender investment gap. Portfolio Adviser has the story here.

Apart from the sheer inequity of it, women are also better investors, apparently. According to Rob Lieber of the New York Times: “Heroes or villains, winners or losers, real or imagined, our iconic investors are very, very male. But that’s a mistake — because it turns out that women are often better at investing.” The full story here.

Fund performance and (ebbs and) flows

Portfolio Adviser reports here that DFM (discretionary fund manager) generated demand for passive funds helped push BlackRock to the top of fund sales in the UK in the third quarter, according to the most recent Pridham Report.

Citywire’s coverage here of the same Pridham quarterly report on UK sales points to Liontrust having registered its highest quarterly net inflow, “threatening to crack the sales dominance of passive giants”.

Asset management M&A

The industry consolidates Abrdn (Aberdeen Standard Investments, in old money) may have lost all its vowels, but it’s going hell for leather in acquiring other investment and related businesses with two deals announced in the space of a fortnight. On the second, it confirmed it was in discussions with Interactive Investor (ii) for a takeover that would value the online broker at £1.5 billion. Read Citywire’s report here.

Also, Portfolio Adviser reports here that T Rowe Price has acquired alternative credit manager Oakhill Advisors and Franklin Resources (better known as the parent of Franklin Templeton) said it had reached an agreement to buy private equity manager Lexington PartnersIgnites Europe has the report here. And closer to home, Columbia Threadneedle Investments announced the completion of BMO’s European asset management business, as reported in Investment Week here.

Investment trusts

Directors fees

Investment trust directors saw their fees rise in the 12 months to March 2021, but at a slower rate than in previous years. Ignites Europe has the story here, and you can download the full report here.

On the move

FBC member Claire Finn has added a Baillie Gifford investment trust to her portfolio of non-executive directorships, whilst FBC corporate member St James’s Place has appointed John Hitchens as a non-exec to its board. Both reports from Portfolio Adviser here and here.

Longer reads

Board Effectiveness from the C-suite eye view

Is a reluctance to retire hampering diversity efforts? Your board’s lack of tech savvy a cyber risk? Or challenge in the boardroom an issue? Delving into these themes and more (including ESG!), PWC’s board effectiveness and performance survey, gives a glimpse of the C-suite’s view of the board room. Read the full paper here.

Want to know the six key areas that together form a strong basis for monitoring and measuring board effectiveness over time? FBC corporate members who didn’t manage to catch our live webinar on Board Effectiveness last week, where we tease out these critical points with our panel of governance experts, can now listen on-demand, here.

The importance of culture, and learning from outside

In a wide-ranging interview with Portfolio Adviser, industry stalwart Tony Stenning, CEO of Atlantic House Investments, and formerly UK retail head at BlackRock, speaks some important truths: the value of internal culture, how the asset management needs to learn from outside of the industry and engagement with the regulator. Tony, no stranger to fund boardrooms, had a short stint with FBC corporate member Link as the chair of its fund board, is the serving chair of The Investing and Savings Alliance (TISA). Read the full interview here.

Several of the news outlets cited in this blog require registration or subscription.  FBC takes no responsibility for the accuracy or quality of the news in the links provided above, and nor are the views and comments representative of FBC or its members, unless expressly stated. In some instances, as indicated, a subscription is required to access certain news articles, and content stored on the FBC portal is freely accessible for FBC members.