Bishop meets institutional investors on executive pay as Church softens Occupy London stance

Plans for Church group to examine the ethics of finance.

The Bishop of London, Dr Richard Chartres – at the centre of the fallout from the Occupy London demonstrations at St Paul’s Cathedral – today met with UK pension funds and investment houses as the Church of England looks to take a firm position on excessive executive pay in the City. A spokesman for the Diocese of London said the meeting with investors, which included CCLA, the specialist investment manager that runs more than £5bn for charities, faith organisations, and local authorities, had been “very positive”.
The Church of England has come under fire for its position on the Occupy London camp at St Paul’s. Previous plans by St Paul’s to evict the Occupy protestors led to the resignation of two senior cathedral clergy. But in the last 24 hours, the Church has softened its stance on the camp and become more vocal about its backing for ethical finance. Specifically, the Bishop has said he wants to see shareholders step up their oversight on executive pay. The call came after a report published last week by Incomes Data Services revealing that FTSE 100 directors had seen total earnings increase by an average of 49% in the last financial year to an average £2.7m each per annum. The Bishop said he was meeting with heads of pension funds and investmenthouses to look at the UK governments proposals on how to make remuneration “more equitable and fair” through shareholder power. Edward Mason, Secretary to the Church of England Ethical Investment Advisory Group, said the meeting had been scheduled before the current controversy to talk about the consultation on executive remuneration under way at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), which closes later this month: Link
Mason said: “It was a group of responsible investors. It was private and as the Church investing bodies we’ll be submitting something to the consultation before the deadline. The Bishop does this kind of thing as part of his role in the City and the role the Church can play as a convenor.”
Separately, the Bishop has said he wants to “air issues around the ethics of finance” and announced plans for a new group, headed by Ken Costa, former chairman of Lazard, the investment bank, to explore the subject. Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Church of England has also supported calls for a Financial Transaction Tax put forward by the European Union.