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Ask your MP to support ‘active’ asset ownership and protect our pensions!

Writing to your MP takes no more than 5-10 minutes of your time, but has a real impact in informing MPs about these issues as well as letting them know that the people who vote for them care about long-term investment and good stewardship practices.

Just follow these 5 simple steps:

  1. Find your local MP by typing in your residential postcode here.

  2. Scroll down the resulting MP webpage until you find your local MP’s e-mail address.

  3. Copy and paste the letter below, which can be adapted to suit, into an e-mail. Make sure you add your address and postcode to the e-mail so that the MP realises they are being e-mailed by one of their constituents.

  4. Write “Please offer your support for ‘active’ ownership by pension funds” (or similar) in the subject line.

  5. Send the e-mail to your MP. Feel free to copy in caroline.escott@uksif.org – this way UKSIF can chase on your behalf if needed.

See our dedicated Ownership Day website www.ownershipday.co.uk for more information on active ownership and how to be an active owner.

Dear [x],

As your constituent, I am writing to ask for your support for Ownership Day – an annual campaign to encourage pension funds and other investors to become ‘active owners’ of their assets.  It is organised by the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF) and this year takes place on Tuesday 25th March.

With final salary schemes in decline, occupational pension schemes moving rapidly towards a defined contribution (DC) model and auto-enrolment adding to the pace of change, the need for pension funds to maximise long-term returns for savers is becoming ever more urgent.

It is increasingly clear that these pension funds can boost their financial returns by ‘actively owning’ or ‘engaging’ with the companies in which they hold shares – through, for example, voting at AGMs, meeting company management to address specific concerns or speaking at general meetings.  This is particularly the case for environmental, social and governance issues such as risks posed by climate change, poor internal governance procedures, or disreputable human rights practices.

Becoming an ‘active owner’ is straightforward and many forward-looking pension funds already engage companies on these issues.  However, the revolution in stewardship and ESG practices that UK savers and pensioners need has not yet arrived.

It is vital that the government and the public sector lead by example on this issue and create a policy environment that incentivises good stewardship by asset owners.  Yet out of 100 local authority pension funds (89 in England and Wales, 11 in Scotland) only 21 have signed up individually to the Stewardship Code – a regulatory initiative that was set up to improve the quality of engagement between institutional investors and investee companies and which it is free to sign up to.

This is why this year, UKSIF will be campaigning around the following 3 policy asks for Ownership Day:

  • Regulators should require all large firms to report on a ‘comply or explain’ basis how their DC corporate pension plans integrate ESG factors.

  • A clarification of the legal concept of ‘fiduciary duty’ to encourage asset owner adoption of good sustainable investment and stewardship practices.

  • All public sector funds should be required to sign up individually to the Stewardship Code.

Further details can be found here.

As your constituent, I would be grateful if you would demonstrate your support for Ownership Day in the following ways:

  1. Attend the Ownership Day Parliamentary Reception, kindly hosted by Paul Uppal MP, on Tuesday 25th March from 4-6pm in Dining Room A.  Speakers will include Barry Parr – Founding Co-Chair of the Association of Member Nominated Trustees (AMNT), and a trustee and DC specialist at The Pensions Trust, one of the UK’s largest pension funds.  Even dropping in for 10 minutes would be much appreciated – or you could send a Researcher to represent you.

  2. Write to your local authority, asking them how their pension fund practises ‘active asset ownership’ and what steps they are taking to ensure they take account of risks presented by environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors in their investments.  If you could let me know their response, I would be most grateful.

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter.  I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,

[Name]

[Full address, including postcode]