Fortnightly News Blog – 23 March 2021

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Board Business

Anti-greenwashing measures kick in, and ACDs come under pressure on value assessments

Are equality issues giving your board a collective headache? You’re not alone, according to several reports in the past fortnight.

The Covid-19 pandemic has refocused many companies’ attention – and that of their boards – on issues such as pay and wellbeing, according to this report from Ignites Europe (subscription required). However, many remuneration committees are not prepared for new rules and expectations, experts say.

Diversity and inclusion have never been more important for both boards and wider workforces – but collecting data to monitor progress remains a major challenge. The Investment Association is involved in several partnerships to address issues in this area from different angles, and earlier this month published Ethnicity in Investment Management, its latest report into the state of diversity in the asset management sector and how firms can take positive action.

Meanwhile, the Financial Conduct Authority’s chief executive Nikhil Rathi says the regulator may start to factor in diversity issues when processing senior manager approvals, FTAdviser reports.

It’s not easy being green

The big story in fund management over the past fortnight has been the expected repercussions of the European Union’s new Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR), which came into force on 10th March. The rules introduced three main categories of funds, as outlined in this Bloomberg article.

As Investment Week reported on 16th March, the new rules will likely lead to fund name and strategy changes in order to make sure funds are compliant. The Financial Times went in-depth into the rules and their potential impact earlier this month.

While it will be two more years before the rulebook is fully implemented, sales and compliance teams are already at odds at some asset managers over how to use the SFDR when marketing to clients, according to Ignites Europe.

ACDs and AoVs

Authorised corporate directors (ACDs) have had a significant amount of work to do to provide Assessment of Value reports on the various fund ranges for which they are responsible. Companies such as IFSL, ConBrio and DMS Governance have all published multiple documents – many of which are available via FBC’s AoV Report Bank.

However, there have been criticisms from some quarters, as outlined in this report by Ignites Europe’s Ed Moisson, featuring comments from our own Shiv Taneja. Some commentators have suggested that independent ACDs have “less motivation” to put pressure on their asset management clients over issues related to value.

And finally…

“The role of the chair is to raise the game of the executive,” states Sir Anthony Habgood in this wide-ranging profile interview in the Financial Times. The former Relx chairman talks about his experiences in the boardroom as a non-executive and chair, and his views on governance, turnarounds, and video conferencing.

Speaking of video conferencing, FBC’s iNED Bootcamp is coming to a digital device near you from 19th April – register now to secure your place!

FBC takes no responsibility for the accuracy or quality of the news in the links provided above. 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.

Look out for our regular industry news updates every fortnight on the FBC website and social media.