Wednesday, 18 May 2011

The Institutional Council of Committees of Shareholder Investors

About a month ago I asked if the (former) Institutional Investor Council (no link yet - I'll explain later) could make it to a year without naming its members. The answer, we learn today, is yes, and indeed the membership of the IIC has remained a mystery for its entire existence, although there is a new name we'll need to get used to. Confused?

Well, today the Institutional Investor Committee issued a press release announcing a guide for companies on underwriting fees. But note that's the Institutional Investor Committee (let's call it IIC2) not the Institutional Investor Council (IIC1). What's the difference you might ask. Well, IIC1 was "established" by the Institutional Shareholders Committee (which comprised the ABI, AIC, IMA and NAPF), though as I have blogged before it doesn't seem to have had much of an independent existence. IIC2 effectively is the ISC, renamed, so as far as I can see IIC2 has been created through the issue of the press release with the Institutional Investor Committee name on it. Already there is a new website.

IIC2 isn't quite the ISC though, because one of the original quartet - the AIC, trade body for investment trusts - has dropped out. This is buried in the bottom of today's release, but is apparently due to "the change in focus of the IIC". This may explain why they've gone with the IIC2 name rather than IIC1, since it may not technically be the same body.

But still it's a surely quite a big deal, so the manner of the non-announcement of the AIC bailing out is perplexing. Imagine the TUC issuing a press release announcing a guide to something, having changed its name - just from that press release onwards - to the Trades Union Council and adding in a footnote to the press release that the GMB is no longer an affiliate. Actually I'm not entirely surprised by the AIC's exit since its name hasn't appeared on any of the underwriting fees stuff, which may give us a clue (I am purely speculating here though).

The net result is that there are now three websites relating to the leadership (ahem) of the institutional investor community - an ISC one, an IIC1 one and an IIC2 one - and a 'senior body' that has less assets behind it than it used to.

IIC2 has announced today that a new advisory council is being formed, and that this will be made up from nominees of the trade bodies. But, exactly a year ago, IIC1 announced that it was forming a nominations committee "to ensure high calibre, representative membership, and the election of a chair". So it looks like a re-announcement (unless IIC1's nom comm did recruit anyone whose name was never made public).

To recap, the pressure on the ISC to reform was because of its failure to provide leadership or really do anything. I don't want to underestimate the importance of the underwriting fees work. But that aside what we seem to have a year later is a much less ambitious body for investor representation, which is itself (due to the AIC dropping out) less representative.

Thing is I bet it goes unchallenged too, cos only saddoes like me follow this stuff.

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