Fortnightly News Blog – 15th October 2021

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ESG and Responsible Investing

Net zero, but maybe not yet

Chris Turpin, who leads FBC founding corporate member First Sentier Investor’s business in Europe and chairs FSI’s climate task force, asks a question that goes to the heart of what a lot of investment governance and fund board directors are starting to worry about: can we believe the data and the claims made by asset managers about their ESG/RI credentials? Clearly not, judging by the results of a slew of investor surveys across Europe published over the past couple of weeks.

The articles can be found on Ignites Europe herehere and here.

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

Direct action

First reported in the Financial Times, news that BlackRock was going to let some of its institutional, and more sophisticated, investors directly vote on issues like executive pay and climate change has been hailed as yet another step for direct action on the part of investors. The full article can be read here. Annual general meetings may never be the same again!

High demand

Should it come as any surprise that demand for ESG skills and competence at asset managers is skyrocketing. Recruitment specialist Bruin Financial tells Ignites Europe the number of roles far exceeds the candidates. Read here about the size of bonuses on offer.

Financial Conduct Authority

Do as I say, and do

The FCA has been in the news a lot this past fortnight, but one story that may have passed some of you by was on how ESG considerations are going to be embedded within its own organisation. Investment Week has the reportage here and outlines how the regulator is committed to publishing a Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) report next year.

Speaking of bonuses 

New-ish FCA boss Nikhil Rathi, in an internal consultation, that was reported very widely in the media, announced the regulator was proposing tough decisions, including the removal of bonuses, which he said, “have not been effective at driving consistent individual or collective performance.” Ouch. First reported by Financial News here, the Investment Week reporting can be read here.

Distribution governance

The fact that a London-based IFA has been bought by two former private client adviser employees is hardly news (that said, the Portfolio Adviser reportage is here). The growing consolidation within distribution of asset and wealth management products and services goes to the heart of what FBC is starting to describe as distribution governance, and for a foretaste of what is to come in this area, a recent Dear CEO letter from the FCA to wealth managers and stockbrokers here should be compulsory reading; especially the section on costs and charges, where it says: “We expect that the outputs from the ex-post costs and charges disclosures will have informed your firm’s consideration of value-for-money, TCF and product governance reviews.” AoV for distributors, possibly?

Stop Press: FCA chair departs

Charles Randall, the FCA’s chair has stepped down after three years of a five year term. Investment Week’s story is here.

Portfolio Manager Transparency

Of chefs and eating one’s own cooking

Every five years or so there is an industry discussion on the extent to which portfolio managers ought to disclose personal stakes in the funds they manage. Well, that time has come again, with reportage in the Financial Times here, as well as in other media outlets. For an equally robust discussion on this topic, we would also point you to LinkedIn, where FBC friend and compliance specialist Beth Cazalet has raised some very good and important points from a governance standpoint.


FN100 Women in Finance 2021

Out this fortnight, the Financial News ‘power list’ of women in finance has 25 from asset management. Congratulations are due to all 100 women and the many whose firms/fund boards are part of FBC’s corporate membership. A very special note of congratulations to FBC corporate member Laura Weatherup who has made the list twice on the trot, and has leadership roles on the Columbia Threadneedle fund boards in the UK and overseas. For other details and the full FN100 Women in Finance 2021 list, see here

Longer reading

The ten trillion dollar man: how Larry Fink became king of Wall Street

From the FT Weekend magazine here

Resilience: Leading for the long-term

KPMG Connect-On-Board. See here for full report

And for those FBC corporate members who haven’t yet signed up for our inaugural Board effectiveness meeting, you can do so here. The 60-min meeting is led by FBC managing director Catherine Battershill, and is on the 28th of October, with a 1 pm BST start. Panellists include Margaret Cullen, Martyn Gilbey and Vicky Kubitscheck.

Several of the news outlet cited in this blog require registration or subscription. Also, 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. Content stored on the FBC portal is freely accessible for FBC members.