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Board agenda: Why Responsible Investing, ESG, and Climate Change matters to Pension Funds, Companies

Thursday 19 March 2020 17:00 - 19:30

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Recent years have seen ESG, Climate Change, and Responsible Investing thrust onto the corporate agenda in every boardroom. The same also be said for pension funds. Expectations of how companies should respond are high and NEDs on Boards are expected to adapt and adjust their guidance to companies accordingly. What does this mean for Actuaries serving as NEDs and Trustees?

Whilst these areas are likely to provide new opportunities, alongside new challenges, for the profession, how can Actuaries identify and address the emerging professional and ethical issues?

This timely event aims to explain why these issues matter and why they have become more relevant in recent years. It will also discuss what this means for NEDs and Actuaries when it comes to exercising their responsibilities. Lead by an expert panel who will share their views and experiences in this key area for discussion, the event will be particularly relevant to those serving on Boards, or aspiring to become NEDs and Actuaries advising Pension Fund Trustees.

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Recent years have seen ESG, Climate Change, and Responsible Investing thrust onto the corporate agenda in every boardroom. Expectations of how companies should respond are high and NEDs on Boards are expected to adapt and adjust their guidance to companies accordingly. The same can also be said for pension funds which, as a store of the future wealth of employees and beneficiaries, must navigate these same expectations on behalf of their members, whilst also ensuring they continue to achieve investment returns that meet or exceed the fund’s objectives.

How should Actuaries and NEDs address these challenges? Are Actuaries, given our training and experience of dealing with probability and risk, naturally well placed to advise Boards and Trustees? Or are these areas where the profession needs to play catch up? What can the IFoA do to help?

Are NEDs and Trustees safe to rely on assurances from mangement that all is well with the existing business strategy when it comes to sustainability and climate change, or do they need to find other ways to satisfy themselves that there are no ‘surprises’?

To explain why these issues matter and why they have become more relevant in recent years, and what this means for NEDs and Actuaries when it comes to exercising their responsibilities, we have pulled together an expert panel to share their views and experience in what we believe is a key discussion area for Actuaries. It is particularly relevant to those serving on Boards or aspiring to become NEDs and Actuaries advising Pension Fund Trustees.

About the speakers

Vanessa Hodge - Chair

Vanessa is a Principal with Mercer and has over 17 years experience within the pensions and investment industry. She spends the majority of her time working on defined benefit trustee client engagements and in 2015 was the technical lead in Mercer’s study on ‘Investing in a time of Climate Change’. She now provides consultant support to Mercer’s Global Responsible Investing team.

Vanessa is a member of the Association of Consulting Actuaries Investment Committee and is a Principal Lecturer for Professional Skills for the IFoA.

Sarah Bates

Sarah is an experienced NED and Chair. She is currently Chair of Polar Capital Technology Trust and Merian Global Investors, and an NED of Worldwide Healthcare Trust. She is also a member of the investment committees of the USS and of the BBC Pension Scheme. She is Chair of the Diversity Project Charity and an Ambassador for Chapter Zero, an organisation which supports NEDs who are interested in climate change.

She is an investment manager by background and has now chaired 10 organisations including St James’s Place plc (having previously been an NED of 7 of those) and has been an NED or similar of 7 others. She has a degree in philosophy and law from Cambridge, an MBA from London Business School and is a Fellow of CFA UK.

David Styles

David started as Director, Corporate Governance the FRC in May 2014.  He was previously a civil servant in BEIS for nearly 30 years and held a number of posts dealing with a range of business sectors and policy issues.  From 2001 - 2011 David was Assistant Director in the Corporate Law and Governance Directorate with policy responsibility for directors’ remuneration, shareholders’ rights and corporate governance, including European and international negotiations on these issues.

Catherine Howarth

Catherine joined ShareAction as Chief Executive in 2008. ShareAction coordinates civil society activism to promote responsible investment across Europe. She is a board member of the Scott Trust, owner of The Guardian, serving on the Scott Trust's investment committee.

According to a recent FT profile, holding business to account is a constant theme in Catherine’s life. She cut her teeth campaigning for workers’ pay as a student and today she is both gadfly and helpmate to the global investment industry. ShareAction’s work is diverse and covers three main areas: pushing for change in investee companies, tracking progress and encouraging individuals to hold their funds to account.

Robert Thomas​

Robert is a Director at Law Debenture,  representing them as an independent professional trustee on the boards of eight pension schemes, including DB and DC, and is Chair of five of these.  He also leads the sole trustee engagement with a large and recently established DC auto enrolment scheme. 

Bringing all-round pensions experience he has recently been involved with consideration of incorporation of ESG factors into investment strategy.  He is also interested in the interaction of ESG and member engagement and scheme sponsor attitudes to the topic.

Robert trained as a chartered accountant with Arthur Andersen before working in various corporate financial roles at Pfizer and Xerox as well as chairing each of their pension trustee boards.  He joined Law Debenture as a full time independent professional trustee in 2017 and is a member of its Pensions Management Group.  He is a member of Council of the Association of Professional Pension Trustees and currently serves on the cross-industry GMP Equalization Work Group. 

Event organiser

Contact Events Team for more information.

eventmanagement@actuaries.org.uk

0207 632 1498

Event sponsors

Mercer logo
17.00-17.30

Registration

17.30-19.30 The programme will take place 
19.30 Close

 

Location

Address

Staple Inn,

4 High Holborn,

Holborn,

London.

WC1V 6DR, UK

Nearest Public Transport

Chancery Lane Tube