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UK asset management body absorbs insurers’ IVIS voting service ahead of Investor Forum

Agreement in principle between IMA and ABI

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has agreed to transfer its investment affairs arm – including its IVIS voting advisory service – to asset management trade body the Investment Management Association (IMA).

The move comes as the Investor Forum – proposed by Professor John Kay in his review of equity markets and which is being driven by the IMA – is set to go live later this year.

The aim of the forum will be to engender a partnership between asset owners, asset managers and companies to increase focus on long-termism.

It is being put together by an implementation team headed by Sacha Sadan, Director of Corporate Governance at Legal & General Investment Management, the fund giant which manages £450bn (€542bn).

The ABI and the IMA, along with the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF), are the main ‘buyside’ trade bodies in the UK.

IVIS (Institutional Voting Information Service) was formed in 2003. It provides UK corporate governance voting research, though it doesn’t make voting recommendations – although its reports are colour-coded to reflect any concerns. It also monitors companies on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.IVIS covers all companies in the FTSE All-Share Index and the top 50 companies in the FTSE Fledgling Index. A long-running feature is its weekly email summarizing its advice.

There have been various attempts to get some sort of institutional investor engagement group up and running in the past, under various guises such as the Institutional Investor Committee and its predecessor the Institutional Shareholders Committee.

But the addition of a voting advisory service to the mix may bolster the new forum in its engagement with companies.

“The boards of the Association of British Insurers and the Investment Management Association have agreed in principle to merge the investment activities of the ABI, including the Institutional Voting Information Service (IVIS), with the IMA,” the pair said in a statement.

Talks are “still ongoing” but would result in the creation of a new organisation, with a new name and a new chairman covering “the full spectrum of investment management activity with a single, stronger and more coherent voice”.

The ABI would continue to represent insurers as asset owners, it said. It’s been reported that around 12 ABI staff members will transfer over to the IMA.