Aberdeen unifies corporate governance strategy with hire of Paul Lee

NAPF governance leader moves back into fund management role.

Aberdeen Asset Management, the £325bn (€415bn) funds house, has brought its global shareholder voting and engagement function under one roof in London with the hire of Paul Lee, the Head of Investment Affairs at the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF), as its Head of Corporate Governance. Aberdeen had previously relied on its fund management teams in different regions around the world to look after its corporate governance strategy, which has a high profile at the company. The funds house is based in 27 countries. However, its recent acquisition of Scottish Widows Investment Partnership, which has a significant rump of passive assets, is thought to have prompted the fund manager to centralise the governance function. Lee, a highly regarded governance specialist, had been with the NAPF for just one year working on governance and development of the organization’s Stewardship strategy as well as other investment policy issues.
The NAPF said that Lee’s role had yet to be filled and that it was still looking for candidates. It said: “The search will take as long as it needs to find the right person to represent pension schemes as investors.”Lee told RI that an approach from Aberdeen for the newly created position had been an “excellent opportunity”. Prior to joining the NAPF, he spent over 13 years at Hermes Equity Ownership Services (EOS), latterly as Director of Policy and Product Development.
Aberdeen emphasizes its ‘responsible ownership’ strategy as a fund manager, which it says is based on conviction that companies with good governance will run their businesses better and deliver enhanced returns. Its Corporate Governance Principles feed into investment analysis, engagement and proxy voting for investee companies worldwide. The manager is a signatory to the UK Stewardship Code. Anne Richards, CIO at Aberdeen Asset Management, said: “We meet with the management and directors of companies on a regular basis and our discussions cover a wide range of topics, including strategic, operational and governance issues. Paul’s appointment strengthens further our focus on long-term decision making and stewardship.”