Brunel Pension Partnership CEO Dawn Turner resigns

Former Environment Agency pensions head says “different style of leadership” needed

Dawn Turner, CEO at Brunel Pension Partnership, has resigned from the £30bn (€34.9bn) ESG-focused UK pension pool.

In her resignation letter to chair Denise Le Gal, Turner indicated that Brunel now needs “a different style of leadership” to take it to the next level of “becoming a fully formed investment management company”.

Brunel, which is arguably the most ESG-orientated of the UK’s eight local government pension pool operators, was formally launched in July 2017, gaining Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) authorisation the following March.

The pooling of the UK’s 89 local government pension schemes was at the behest of the then UK Chancellor [Finance Minister] George Osborne in 2015, for reasons of efficiency, scale, and cost savings.

The board expressed sadness at Turner’s decision and wished to give “appropriate thanks” to her for her “delivery as a strong change agent and strategist who has driven Brunel’s success”.

“For the past four years, Dawn Turner has been the key person to set up Brunel, from the early stages of the idea of pooling to setting up an FCA regulated company. She has done so with vision, drive and commitment and has developed a strong culture of openness, collaboration and transparency”, the press release added.

A spokesperson for Brunel told RI that it couldn’t offer any further information.Turner, formerly Chief Pensions Officer at the Environment Agency, plans to step down from her role at Brunel by the end of September 2019 and will then transition to her “portfolio career”. According to her LinkedIn profile, she used to run a public house, having begun her career at clothing firm Laura Ashley.

“She has done so with vision, drive and commitment and has developed a strong culture of openness, collaboration and transparency”

The board will begin the process of recruiting a replacement soon.

Brunel operates on behalf of 10 client funds: Cornwall, Buckinghamshire, Dorset, Wiltshire, Devon, Avon, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Oxfordshire as well as the Environment Agency Pension Fund.

RI has reported on some of the teething problems that the pools have faced whilst trying to deliver the government’s radical plans for the UK’s local government pension system – a process that hasn’t been helped by the government’s focus on Brexit.

Other pools have seen their CEOs step down after short tenures, for example Andrew Warwick-Thompson left after just 14 months heading LGPS Central.