UK : FRC strengthens Stewardship Code

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) is consulting on a new Stewardship Code (PDF) that sets substantially higher expectations for investor stewardship policy and practice. The Code will focus on how effective stewardship delivers sustainable value for beneficiaries, the economy and society.

The new Code aims to increase demand for more effective stewardship and investment decision-making which is better aligned to the needs of institutional investors’ clients and beneficiaries.

The proposed main changes to the Code include:

- Purpose, values and culture.
 Investors must report how their purpose, values and culture enable them to meet their obligations to clients and beneficiaries. This aligns the Code with the UK Corporate Governance Code and encourages embedding behaviour conducive to effective stewardship in the investor community.

- Recognising the importance of ESG factors.
 The proposed Code now refers to environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors. Signatories are expected to take material ESG issues into account when fulfilling their stewardship responsibilities.

- Stewardship beyond listed equity. 
The proposed Code now expects investors to exercise stewardship across a wider range of assets where they have influence and rights, in the UK and globally.

The proposed 2019 Code sets out more rigorous requirements for reporting, focusing on how stewardship activities deliver outcomes against objectives. Reporting will be subject to increased oversight by the FRC to ensure the Code is effective in raising the quality of stewardship across the investor community.

In preparing the consultation the FRC has engaged with 170 members of the investment community and companies, including the largest UK asset managers, pension funds, key international investors and UK listed companies.