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Independent Governance Committee

Annual Members’ Forum, 17 July 2019

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The Independent Governance Committee Annual Members’ Forum took place on Wednesday 17 July 2019 in London.The Independent Governance Committee, (or IGC), look after the best interests of our members when it comes to their pension scheme and we act independently of Legal & General. The Annual Members’ Forum provides an opportunity for members to meet and hear from the IGC, ask questions and receive updates on our progress and remit.

Dermot Courtier, the chair of the IGC, welcomed members to the Annual Members’ Forum, introduced the IGC members and provided an overview of what the IGC does, and presented a review of the year.

Dermot explained that the IGC oversees the following Legal & General business units: Workplace Pensions and Mature Savings. Workplace Pensions is available to new employers and had 1.8 million members with £22.9 billion in assets at 30 June 2019.

Mature Savings, which manages the older pension range that is no longer available to new employers, had just under one million members with £2.3 billion in assets at 30 June 2019.

Below are some of the key areas that were discussed:

IGC Value for Money Assessment:

Dermot explained that annually, the IGC assesses the value for money provided by Legal & General. He explained that the IGC assess value for money using six different criteria which include costs, charges, investments and the communications Legal & General provide to members. Dermot focused on the value for money that related to Workplace Pensions and explained that the IGC’s overall judgement is that Legal & General have provided good value for money. 

You can find out more about the value for money assessment within the IGC Annual Report.

Updates from Marketing Services: 

Kerry McNair, Head of Marketing Services at Workplace DC Pensions, presented some examples of the improvements that Legal & General are making to the online member services, including Manage Your Account (known as MYA).

The MYA service and online tools are specifically designed to help members plan for their future in the years leading up to retirement. 

Engaging Members in their Pension:

Kerry introduced the new personalised online pension benefit statement - the video encourages members to think about how much they need in retirement, and prompts them to consider that by making changes today, they can make a big difference tomorrow.

For example by saving more into their pension pot, or changing their target retirement age, members can see the positive impact these changes could have on their pension pot.

Kerry also talked about the Financial Wellbeing Hub, which provides information and support for people making financial decisions at key life stages, for example, starting a family, moving home and the retirement journey. New articles and videos are regularly added to encourage members to come back to the website.

There’s a growing acknowledgement of the importance of financial wellbeing for employees – in particular, the impact that financial worries can have on a person’s general health and wellbeing. The hub’s resource can help members approach their financial future with confidence. If an employer has made the wellbeing hub available to their members, they will be able to view it on their scheme microsite.

Question & Answer Session: Environmental, Social and Governance (known as ESG): 

The topics discussed included responsible investing and the wider green investment economy. This was a great opportunity for members to share their views and ask questions. Simon Chinnery, Head of DC Client Solutions, LGIM posed questions to IGC member Daniel Godfrey, Independent Member of the IGC. 

ESG Investing:

In the world of investing, ESG refers to strategies which take these factors into account when deciding where and how money is invested; the IGC look at how Legal & General engages with these companies on your behalf. 

Investing in a way that incorporates ESG factors could reduce long-term risks for members – for example, climate change, and could improve investment returns. 

The IGC review the work Legal & General are doing with company boards on social and governance issues: this includes promoting greater diversity, improving board governance and reducing income inequality within companies that Legal & General funds invest in.

In 2018, we carried out a member survey* on their views around ESG issues and governance. We are looking at the way in which ESG considerations are integrated into all funds offered by Legal & General. We believe it’s important to understand and ensure that the areas we are progressing are those that are important to the members.

Here are some of the responses that we received:

How important is it that fund managers actively consider the following issues:

Climate change and the impact of moving to a low-carbon economy, when choosing the companies in which to invest your money? 

  • 33% of members said it was important, 31% of members said it was very important. 

The ethics and culture of the business, including employee rights, treatment of supplies and management of whistleblowing incidents? 

  • 38% of members thought it was important, 36% of members thought it was very important. 

Avoiding companies perceived to have a negative social impact, such as manufactures of controversial weapons or tobacco? 

  • 28% of member though it was important, 41% of members though it was very important. 

If you knew that your pension fund was making a positive, social impact, do you think it would make you want to engage more with your pension and find out more about it?

  • 55% of members said yes, it would make them want to find out more about their pension. 

Would it make you want to pay more into your pension?

  • 30% of members said it would make them want to pay more.

*For every survey that was completed, we planted a tree (1,000 in total), at a site on Finchley Road, London in March 2019.

Conclusion:

It was great to see so many members attending this year and feedback was positive and constructive. If you’re interested in attending next time, please contact us on the email address below. Or, for further information about the topics covered, or the statistics presented please contact us on: igc@lgim.com