Nineteen leading institutional investors commit funding to UK’s Investor Forum

Major domestic and international institutions commit to initiative

The Investor Forum, the group established to facilitate collective investor engagement in the UK following the 2012 Kay Review, has secured three-year funding commitments from 19 major institutional investors (see list below) – and disclosed it has led nine collective engagements since launch in 2014.

The investor backers include not only leading UK institutions but also large US players such as Capital Group, Fidelity and T. Rowe Price.

The body, currently sponsored by the UK’s Investment Association (IA) asset management trade group, will now become independent.

Andy Griffiths, executive director of the Investor Forum, would not disclose how much funding had been committed. He told Responsible Investor that it would be an associate model to ensure it had specialists when needed, alongside its core team. He added that, while independent, the forum would retain links to the IA, and still be housed in its London offices for the time being.

As if to demonstrate the rise of investor-corporate engagement, the news coincided with the board of mining giant Anglo American coming out in support of the ‘Aiming for A’ shareholder resolution calling for more transparency over climate change risks and opportunities. Peers Rio Tinto and Glencore are also supportive.

Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe, the former Hermes Equity Ownership Services board member and Tesco director who is junior minister at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, said the Investor Forum plays a “valuable role” in long-term value creation.

Griffiths declined to disclose the companies that have been engaged with, but said they were from all sectors of the market and issues ranged from capital expenditure, performance and corporate governance issues such as board leadership.Asked whether the identities would be made public, Griffiths said it depended on what members wanted but said “discretion was the most important component of its work”.

“Investors have their own voice, and we frame that and facilitate that dialogue,” he said. “It’s a facilitation role. We don’t replace, we amplify.” James Anderson, a partner at investment firm Baillie Gifford who was on the Kay Review panel, said he was “hugely encouraged” by the early progress of the forum and that it enables “serious dialogue” away from the “noise of market trading”. It is a chance, he said, to reverse the “fragmentation and diminution of our influence and responsibilities as owners that has so marred recent history”. Link

Investor Forum backers:
Aberdeen Asset Management
Legal & General Investment Management
Allianz Global Investors
M&G Investments
Aviva Investors
Old Mutual Global Investors (UK)
Baillie Gifford & Co
Railpen Investments
Capital Group
Standard Life Investments
Fidelity International
T. Rowe Price International
Generation Investment Management
The Wellcome Trust
Henderson Global Investors
UBS Asset Management
Jupiter Asset Management