Hermes EOS ‘to be named voting advisor on Willis Towers Watson fund’

Insiders say the Global Equities Focused Fund will be advised by UK engagement specialist

Willis Towers Watson, the London-based investment consultancy, is set to name engagement house Hermes Equity Ownership Services (EOS) as voting advisor for its pioneering active Global Equities Focused Fund (GEFF), RI understands – with the appointment expected to be announced in the next few weeks.
GEFF – which was touted as a ‘world first’ when it was set up in 2016 by the global consultant – claims to offer “disillusioned institutional equity investors” access to the “world’s best equity ideas” and promises “high levels of transparency” for “competitive fees”.
David Shapiro, Portfolio Manager at Willis Towers Watson said in a press release at the time that the fund was launched in response to feeling “dispirited” by the “preponderance of expensive index-hugger-type products” available to its institutional investor clients who wished to invest in equities.
This perceived lack in investable solutions for its clients led the global consultant to conclude, “if the vehicles don’t exist, we’ll build them”, according to the Global Head of the firm’s funds business, Paul Berriman.
Hermes EOS, which currently has £330.5bn (€377bn) in assets under advice, will now, RI understands, advise WTW’s global equities fund.The engagement arm of UK-based Hermes Investment Management offers its clients a range of ESG expertise, including corporate engagement, proxy voting and ESG screening and advisory services.
Hermes Investment Management, which manages assets of £33.6bn (€38.3bn) and is well known for its strong governance and stewardship stance, was recently acquired by US asset management giant Federated Investors, who bought a majority stake from its previous owner the BT Pension Scheme earlier this year.
When GEFF launched, Willis Towers Watson stated that the fund would be comprised of the “top 10 to 15 stock picks from eight top-rated investment managers”, adding that risk would be managed at the portfolio level.
The fund is one of six pooled funds – including a diversified multi-asset fund, two liquid alternative funds and an alternative credit fund – managed by the consultancy firm with combined assets of £4bn, according to RI’s source.
Both Hermes EOS and Willis Towers Watson declined to comment on the appointment.