Thursday, 5 November 2009

Data disappears...

Most people have read about the unfortunate disbanding of the well-regarded responsible investment team at Insight Investment. Having had a look at the Insight website today it appears that the ‘Responsible Investment’ section, which had quite a lot of useful documents in it, has been removed or made inaccessible. This also means that you can’t access their voting and engagement records, which were presented in one of the best systems I have come across in my voting geekery.

So let me mount my hobby-horse another time and take it for a quick ride. Doesn’t this just demonstrate the problem of a voluntary system of disclosure, where the data is only provided at an asset manager’s discretion? Insight started disclosing its voting back in 2004, and it was a big asset manager, so there was a lot of data there. Now it is gone.

Because there is no central repository for voting data, where we could access voting decisions from previous seasons regardless of whether the manager had been taken over, unless someone at decides to reverse this decision I presume Insight's voting record is gone for good. I think it's unlikely that SWIP (who took the equities bit of Insight) will suddenly decide to make it all public again, for the simple reason that they don't disclose any data themselves.

In contrast, if we had a mandatory system, where managers had to make an annual report on how al their votes have been cast, and file it with an organisation like the FRC, this problem would not emerge.

No comments: