Tuesday, 2 April 2013

The Council of Committees of Institutional Shareholder Investors (working group)

Regular readers will know I have developed a bit of a geeky interest in the various failed attempts by the UK's institutional investor trade bodies to form an effective collaborative body. I think Paul Myners effectively killed the Institutional Shareholders Committee by regularly drawing attention to its ineffectiveness when he was a Treasury minister.

Since 2010 the ISC has been revamped twice already, first as the Institutional Investor Council (in 2010) and then again in 2011 as the Institutional Investor Committee. Along the way the Association of Investment Companies, a long-time member of the ISC, dropped out - something that no-one apart from Responsible Investor seemed to spot. (As an aside, I find it surprising that more financial journos don't probe this kind of thing - imagine if the TUC quietly announced that the GMB was no longer an affiliate... it wouldn't go unremarked).

At the time of both recent relaunches it was promised that the "new" body would foster collective/collaborative shareholder engagement, but I don't think either version of the IIC has actually done so? Instead, again in line with previous experience, the group has been used as a stamp on policy work. Most troubling to my mind is the way that the IIC label seems to have been used as the voice of UK institutional shareholders in lobbying the EC on audit issues (ie against mandatory rotation etc).

Never fear though, last week saw the announcement of a plan to form a working group to discuss the setting up of a new body to... errr... foster collective shareholder engagement. I don't mean to be unduly harsh on the IMA which seems to want to give the idea (set out in the Kay Review) of an investor forum a proper crack. But a) we have been here several times before and trade bodies haven't been able to do it b) the limited nature of the announcement (even compared to the previous IIC statements) tells its own story and c) it's no secret that the asset management industry isn't chomping at the bit on this one.

A new dawn may not have broken...

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