The Committee is to receive a presentation from Faith Ward, Brunel Pension Partnership
The Committee received a detailed presentation from Faith Ward, Responsible Investment Officer and Chris Crozier, Relationship Officer from the Brunel Pension Partnership (BPP).
Members were advised that a sustainable equity mandate would be issued in due course. It was noted that BPP had a detailed responsible investment policy and supporting information on their website and this was incorporated this into their work ethic. Alex Bull, Pensions Manager advised the Committee that he also sat on the Responsible Investment Sub Group at BPP.
In response to a question relating to financial sustainable system, Ms Ward explained that it involved looking at how our economy could contribute to a more sustainable planet, whilst being mindful of the factors which impact on financial returns and hence the delivery of pensions.
Ms Ward advised members that the policy framework was devised in association the Government Department for Work and Pensions. It was explained that there was now a more operational focus on the client, and that BPP gave the Government advice and feedback.
It was suggested that should Pension Funds use their influence on Government as the value of the funds should not be underestimated. As many pension funds were major investors in Companies and held a great deal of influence in the UK first and foremost.
Members were advised that during the manager selection process, BPP considered a number of factors including the team composition, staff turnover, etc and they challenged managers on a variety of issues before appointing.
It it was noted that emerging markets were defined through the MSCI Index, Ms Ward explained that China was considered an emerging market as it was not possible to access most Chinese businesses. Members wished to know if there was a level playing field across the markets, officers explained it was more a question of how risk was being managed, for example in Japan it was unusual to have women on the board, therefore it was necessary to have nuances and regional expertise.
The Committee were advised that there were responsible investment levels on alcohol, etc but currently not on smoking, however BPP are likely to address this in the future. It was evident there were intrinsic challenges involved in operating to different time lines. In response to a question, members were advised that the Committee would receive a quarterly carbon footprint report.
Members also questioned the ethical and moral trend in pension schemes. Ms Ward explained that it was necessary to have an awareness of the issues and have a greater understanding as companies who were positioning themselves to be more sustainable would probably be in a better position in the longer term.
Officers reminded members of the Investor Day which had been arranged by BPP and all were welcome to attend.
The Committee proceeded to discuss the presentation in considerable detail. The Chairperson thanked Faith & Chris for attending and providing the Committee with a very detailed presentation, he reiterated that members were concerned by a number of issues and that a follow up session would be advisable in due course.
It was suggested that the Annual Report could include a paragraph on Responsible Investing as this would give members of the scheme reassurance.
That the presentation was received.