I question the absence of an organisation in the UK that speaks solely on behalf of institutional investors without a commercial interest, as opposed to a tangential activity of trade associations.
The most appropriate arena for this to take place would surely be an industry-wide institute operating with close ties to the academic institutions also engaging in the debate. I have in mind something similar to the Council of Institutional Investors. But no such organisation exists in the UK.
Such a body would focus exclusively on promoting understanding and best practices in stewardship and good governance, unfettered by any other loyalties or priorities.
To date the only significant effort to address this challenge was the creation of the Institutional Shareholders Committee Forum.
This is composed of various constituent member bodies including the ABI, AIC, IMA and NAPF.
The terms of reference for the ISC are to provide a conduit through which members can share views and, where appropriate, co-ordinate activities on any matter likely to affect the interests of investing institutions in their role as investors.
However, in practical terms the ISC has struggled to deliver tangible results.
This should not come as a surprise.
The forum is a coordinating mechanism for trade bodies who themselves operate primarily to promote the interests of their own industries – there is no one organisation in the UK that speaks solely and exclusively on behalf of institutional investors without commercial benefit as an overriding goal. This, in my view, is a deficiency.
To compound this disconnect, the ISC is a loose collection of trade associations rather than member firms, and as such is two degrees removed from the operational nexus of the industry.
The committee has rarely met and has not evolved. It is controlled by industry trade bodies; it has no budget or permanent secretariat.
Trade bodies clearly and correctly operate primarily in the interests of their own fee-paying members. This may or may not accord with the interests of end investors but it is a fact of life that parties selling services to others for gain are not necessarily always going to have entirely shared interests with their clients.
Monday, 23 July 2012
A blast from the past
Paul Myners, October 2009: