Photo credit: The Trouble Club and Alice Lubbock

After the calm of August, there has been a strong back to school vibe this month. It’s been great to get back to chairing events with a record 43 people attending my latest sustainable networking get-together where we discussed how institutional investors could help to protect biodiversity. I also moderated the inaugural Trouble in Business event for The Trouble Club where we discussed the progress women leaders had made in a packed room at The Ned. Two new articles for MandateWire were published this month. One looked at the implications of the Mansion House compact while the second asked if Japanese equities had come back to life. I wrote two of a new series of blogs which will examine the challenges facing asset managers. The first looked at the impact of the rise of passive investment and DB switch to fixed income while the second examined the how war and maverick politicians reignited inflation and caused the LDI crisis.

Why institutional investors should protect biodiversity

On a hot night in September, 43 crammed into the top room at the Betsey Trotwood to hear Gemma James and Robert Gardner explain the biodiversity challenges facing us, how nature can help to alleviate climate change and what investors can do to ameliorate this situation. The panellists were insightful and entertaining while the audience asked good and difficult questions which kept us on our toes! The next event takes place on Tuesday, 7th November so get in touch if you would like to come along.

What’s working for women leaders and what do we need to improve?

I was delighted to chair The Trouble Club’s inaugural Trouble in Business event this month. According to the 2023 FTSE Women Leaders Review, progress for women in leadership is going well. The goal for getting women to make up 40% of FTSE 350 executive boards has been achieved ahead of schedule. But only 17% of finance directors at the FTSE 250 are female compared with 75% of human resource directors and only 4% of the FTSE 250 companies have a female CEO. Pavita Cooper, Ann Francke and Diana Brightmore-Armour were fantastic panellists sharing their experience and explaining that business culture is the key to female success. It was a packed house at The Ned and the audience contributed great questions. Get in touch if you would like to join the next Trouble in Business event.

UK schemes commit billions to unlisted equities but cost concerns remain

This feature for MandateWire looked at the implications of The Mansion House Compact. This plan committed nine of the UK’s nine largest pension providers to invest a minimum of 5 per cent of their portfolios in unlisted equities by 2030. There is no mandated requirement to invest in the UK nor to make the investment unless it is in the best interests of members. But while the direction of travel to diversify the portfolio of DC schemes should welcomed, major challenges remain – cost and liquidity are a concern. The consultation outcome on value for money, also published in July, should provide the headroom for pension providers to move away from cost as a proxy for value.

Consultants explain why Japanese equities are worth another look

2023 is turning out to be the year of the phoenix − when long-dead asset classes come back to life. First it was fixed income and now it is Japanese equities. My latest piece for MandateWire explains why, after decades in the doldrums, the winds are once filling the sails of stocks and shares in the land of the rising sun. The article examines the similarities between the Chinese and Japanese economies and explains how the cyclic outlook has become more favourable for Japan. It also discusses how Shinzo Abe’s third arrow to revive the Japanese economy – improving corporate governance − is starting to bite with boards improving their diversity and making more productive use of their cash

A tough ten years

This is the first in a series of new blogs which will examine the pressures on the asset management industry. This post discusses the impact of the rise of passive investment as well as how accountancy changes made companies close UK private sector defined benefit schemes and shun equities in favour of fixed income. Asset managers adapted to the change by either building passive equity businesses, becoming LDI managers or developing alternative assets to provide the yield lacking in listed markets.

War and maverick politicians

My second post examines how war and maverick politicians brought about a once in a generation change in financial markets. Rapid interest rate rises coupled with maverick politicians not only meant a Bank of England intervention to prevent systemic collapse but also demand for alternative funds falling off overnight. This heightened the pressure on asset managers. Can you guess why I choose to illustrate this story with a picture of an iceberg lettuce?

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