By Jess Clark, Campaign Organiser, ShareAction

If you ask someone on the street what a good school looks like you have a pretty good idea of what their response will be. They will talk about the ratio of children per teacher and the subjects offered to students. It’s a similar situation when you ask someone what a good hospital looks like. They will discuss waiting times, skilled doctors and cutting edge treatments. Ask the average person to describe a good pension scheme, well that’s when things get tricky. That is why earlier this year we developed a vision for what a good pension fund looks like.

As part of our mission to reform the system, together with our supporters, we created three essential expectations for a good pension scheme: a good scheme listens; a good scheme is well governed; a good scheme invests well. Read more about our vision here.

Since launching our vision, Pension Power teams across the country have been making great progress to make it a reality. Check out an update on all that’s been happening in a range of teams below.

West Yorkshire Pension Fund – investing well

West Yorkshire Pension Fund has committed to actively invest in low-carbon and renewable energy technology as well as including climate risk in their Investment Strategy Statement.

Scottish Widows – listening well

Scottish Widows are surveying their members to better understand their views on responsible investment. If you’re a Scottish Widows member, let them know what you think here.

SAUL – listening well but need to act

Staff from the Superannuation Arrangements for the University of London agreed to meet with members to discuss their investments. Members are holding them to account on their commitment to carry out a climate audit this year.

Aegon – time to listen better?

Scheme members have approached the scheme a number of times over the last six months to gain further updates on their progress to good. The scheme hasn’t been responsive so members are upping the pressure and contacting the chair of their Independent Governance Committee (a team of people that acts as a customer advocate for the scheme) to hold the provider to account.

Co-Op PACE – investing and listening well

The scheme has been making progress on responsible investment – improving their policies, appointing asset managers who have responsible investment know-how and undertaking carbon audits to get clear on their carbon exposure. The Pension Power team is now pushing the scheme to develop benchmarks for exclusions on extractive industries over the next six months and extending their climate audit.

Aviva – engaging well with their investments, could they be listening better?

Aviva have taken a great lead as a responsible investor and are at the forefront of many climate change investor initiatives. Aviva savers from the Equity Union are now pushing them to create an ethical default fund that has a climate change tilt for their £50+ million pension pot. Savers have also been asking for an annual member meeting for a number of years now to ensure they are properly listened to. An area for Aviva to up its game.

Transport for London (Tfl) – governing well and working on their approach to investments

TfL have a high-quality approach to governance with member representatives on their board, an Annual Members Meeting and a wider range of consultative forums that involves key stakeholders. The scheme is also looking to undertake a climate audit and is now considering how it can better build environmental and social risk factors into its investment approach. Slow and steady progress.

LPFA – working on their investment approach and listening to members

Members of the London Pensions Fund Authority attended their fourth annual meeting where the scheme explained that they had reduced their investments in fossil fuels to around 2% and that they invest £172 million in renewables. The scheme also met with the Responsible Investment Officer of the pooled fund LPFA sits in. Next step – push for commitments in line with the London Mayor’s pledge to reduce the funds fossil fuel holdings.

Standard Life – a first engagement to get to good!

After team building for the last few months, members have now come together and gained the commitment from Standard Life’s Independent Governance Committee to meet. Let the journey to good begin!

Wiltshire Pension Fund – months of pressure pay off

Wiltshire Pension Fund recently had their AGM which was well attended by members. Members asked questions about the risk of climate change to the fund which were for the first time welcomed by the fund. The pension scheme is considering a carbon footprint of the scheme’s asset allocation, temperature rise scenario analysis and is being pro-active towards clean energy through investing in companies such as Tesla.

Islington – listening to members views but room for improvement

Islington have engaged with members at the annual meeting and given some positive signals that they’re willing to consider the funds exposure to fossil fuels. Time to get serious and make some concrete commitments.

If you are interested in learning more about what a good pension scheme looks like then get in contact to discuss joining one of our Pension Power teams or finding out how you can engage with your own scheme in a similar way.

Thanks Jess! To find out more about Pension Power, get in touch with us here.